When Shubhada Surve, 30, moved from Mumbai to Gurgaon in 2010, she was worried about leaving this bustling city. A year down the line, the marketing manager still loves Mumbai, but she confesses she does not miss its lack of space.
"I lived in Mulund and travelled to Worli for work. I could not find any space for a stroll or a walk," said Surve. "In Delhi, a park is accessible to everyone. In Mumbai, either you have to join a gym or give up your fitness plan."
With a population of 1.6 crore, Delhi has 20,000 parks and a green cover of over 4,500 hectares, constituting 20% of its geographical area. Maintained by the Delhi Development Authority and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, citizens have access to gardens, parks and 14 sports complexes with affordable state-of-the-art facilities.
Compare that to Mumbai. Officials with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation put the number of gardens to vaguely more than 800. Of the seven BMC swimming pools, only three are open to the public. As CM Prithviraj Chavan admitted eight months ago, Mumbai has 0.2 hectares of open spaces per 1,000 Mumbaiites in the island city and 1.2 hectares in the suburbs, a mere 20% of the required open space.
New Delhi's master plan of 2021 takes into account the rate of population growth and migration for extension of urban areas. The BMC is still debating handing over of 25% of existing open spaces to private caretakers. Residents are fighting this move as they believe it will reduce accessible open spaces as private bodies can construct clubs there.
"The master plan factors population growth and then open spaces are developed," said Neemo Dhar, head of public relations, DDA. "We have separated green areas from recreational grounds, which will eventually create more open spaces."
The capital has 14 sports complexes with 13 swimming pools and facilities such as gyms, badminton and tennis courts. Add three golf courses to that. In the works are five more sports complexes, three mini-sports complexes and three pools. The DDA spends around Rs 40 crore on annual maintenance.
"The colony parks help towards natural water harvesting," said Deep Mathur, director of public relations, MCD.
"It is the only city that pays so much attention to green cover," Dhar said.