The protection around the city’s green lungs may soon get stronger with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) considering increasing the security at its open spaces.
The move comes following a private security guard being killed by unknown persons at a civic garden in Mulund last week. Civic gardens have long been targets of vandalism by miscreants who damage equipment and wreck beautification efforts.
Under the new system, civic officials will first grade gardens based on the security threat to it. “Gardens will come under three categories – safe, unsafe and extremely unsafe. We will tell the respective ward offices to draw up a list of all gardens in the ward and classify them,” said Chandrashekhar Rokade, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens).
Rokade clarified that the security would be put in place to protect the garden from being desecrated more than anything else. “We have spent a lot on making exquisite theme gardens in the past few years. But, miscreants enter in the nights and deface and damage equipment.”
The civic body has, in the past few years, hiked the budget for the gardens department and focused on creating theme parks. This concept of theme parks, the cost of which runs into crores, has come in for a lot of flak. A senior civic official said on condition of anonymity, “Rather than spending Rs 6-7 crore on a theme garden, the money would be better spent on the upkeep of different gardens.”
Rokade said the exercise of classifying gardens would begin soon. But, the issue of manpower to secure the city’s green spaces is likely to be an obstacle. “Once the grading is done, we will crosscheck it with the existing manpower and how much more we would need,” Rokade added.
However, another official from the gardens department said manpower was lacking to implement such a mechanism. “The BMC might then look at privatising the security aspect of gardens, and let private guards man our spaces,” the official added.