Citizens groups and non-government organisations (NGOs) on Friday staged protests against the construction of a club in the civic garden opposite Vidyanidhi School and College, Juhu.
The citizens alleged that Ronson Foundation to whom the BMC had given the contract to maintain the garden, has cut more than 1,000 of the 1,300 trees to construct the club. “Earlier, we fought to save the trees and now we are protesting against the club for which these trees were cut. We don’t want any club here,” said Neeta Bajpai, joint secretary of Gulmohar Area Society’s Welfare Group.
Sohil Kusumgar, trustee of Ronson Foundation, denied that trees had been cut. “There were 1,300 trees when the garden was given to us and the last count was 1,325. Whichever tree was removed has been transplanted with permission from the tree authority,” Kusumgar said.
He claimed that some citizens’ groups, including the one headed by Ashok Pandit had filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court in 2008 asking for a club on 15% of the garden area. “When they failed to get it from the BMC or the high court, they are agitating for the garden and other groups are following them thinking it is for public interest,” he said, adding that the protests were contempt of court.
Pandit, secretary of the Gulmohar Area Society’s Welfare Group, said: “Save Open Spaces or Gulmohar Area Society’s Welfare Group has not filed any PIL. I am not part of any PIL as far as this garden is concerned.” The residents said they received a call from the municipal commissioner who asked them to meet him on Wednesday.