If you are irked with lack of open spaces in your locality or would like to take the initiative to save one, flipping through the pages of a book might help.
Citispace, a citizens’ group working towards preserving city's open spaces, on Saturday launched a fact file on the city's 600 reserved public open spaces and their current state.
Called Breathing Space, this book lists open spaces in the city and carries detailed reports on select open spaces.
Talking about the book, Citispace co-convenor Nayana Kathpalia said, “We want this book to empower citizens to make them aware of open spaces in their area and fight to reclaim them. Unless citizens get possessive about their local parks and playgrounds, there is a fear that these might vanish, thanks to the bad policies of the civic body.”Citispace had taken initiative for a campaign to ensure that the controversial 'caretaker' policy by the civic body is withdrawn. Under the policy, an open space (a playground or a garden) could be leased out to a private trust for 33 years, while allowing the trust to construct on 33 percent of the total land.
The Hindustan Times also ran a series of news reports on the plans to hand over the open spaces to private parties with restricted access to citizens. The series was aimed at pointing out that the residents of Mumbai had first right to the open spaces in the city. Following public uproar, the state government, in November 2007, stayed the controversial policy. A final decision is yet to be taken.
Speaking at the launch, Aspi Chenoy, senior counsel, Bombay High Court, said: “Now, its up to the citizens to ensure that the book doesn't become a historical record of the open spaces once left for us,”Chenoy said.
Speakers also lamented the apathy of the establishment towards the cause of open spaces. “Allowing open spaces to vanish is not an act of neglect by the State and the civic body, but an act which has occurred by design,” said Neera Punj, convenor, Citispace. She said that it was time citizens woke up to the cause of conserving whatever was left of the city’s open spaces.