Even as citizen groups are pushing hard for stringent rules that will discourage grabbing of open spaces, elected representatives in the civic body have put up a demand that they should have a greater say in handing over such spaces to private trusts under the new policy proposed in this regard.
Specifically, they want to be on the several committees that the new policy proposes to set up to keep a check on these trusts.
The demand was made by several corporators, both from the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance as well as the opposition parties, in Tuesday’s meeting of the civic improvements committee, convened to discuss the proposed open spaces policy.
Citizen groups are apprehensive that giving greater say to corporators would mean handing over another tool to politicians to grab open spaces. Already, there are over half-a-dozen spaces that have been taken over by clubs run by politicians to which citizens are denied entry.
Making the demand, Ashraf Azmi of the Samajwadi Party said, “Currently, none of these committees have any room for corporators. If this policy has not envisioned any role for corporators, then why should we even waste time deliberating upon it? The administration needs to make amendments to ensure that corporators are accommodated in these committees, so that we have a say in what happens on open space plots in our wards.”
Reiterating Azmi’s view, BJP corporator Dnyanmurti Sharma said, “How can there be such committees without any elected representatives? If this provision remains, junior officials will never reveal the true picture to senior civic officials and real issues about the plots will remain in the dark.”
The proposed policy has provisions for three committees, for screening, zonal and central review. Insiders said that gaining a foothold in any of these committees will mean that corporators can dictate terms and pitch for a ‘favourable’ trust to be allotted the plot.
Chairman of the improvements committee Dr Ram Barot said: “We are studying whether we can include corporators in these committees. We might not allow everyone, but probably some who hold important posts, like the head of the market and gardens committee, for instance.”