The civic body’s new open spaces policy has several amendments to address the concerns of Mumbaiites against the misuse of these plots.
But even as the new open spaces policy promises to make it difficult for trust affiliated with political parties to get open plots under the caretaker policy, eight plots that were already allotted to trusts run by political parties will remain with them. However, they will have to abide by the provisions in the new policy that the will ensure that citizens get access to open space.
Citizens had two big problems with the caretaker policy, which was stayed in 2007 following severe opposition. First, the private bodies that were allotted the open space did not allow locals to access it. Second, the private bodies — mostly controlled by politicians — built clubs and restaurants on the space, defeating the purpose of maintaining the city’s open places.
Once the new policy gets implemented, all the 49 plots allotted under the caretaker policy, will have to hand over to the plots to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The BMC will take an undertaking from the trusts of these eight plots saying that they will have to abide by the new policy and will return the plots back to them.
However, other plots given to private trusts will be taken back by the civic body and fresh bids will be invited.
“The eight plots that were given to trusts run by politicians have been developed into full-fledged gymkhanas while in the other plots construction has not even begun. They will be taken back and fresh bids will be invited for them,” said a civic official.
Under the caretaker policy recreational grounds can be leased out to private parties and they can construct on 25% of the plot area and will have to maintain the rest as open space.
Currently, there are 877 open plots, which are reserved for gardens, play grounds and recreation ground. There are over 180 plots that are up for bidding under the new policy.
Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar, who has cleared the new open spaces policy, said that under the new policy if a trust run by political parties wants a plot under the caretaker policy, they will have to be backed by local citizens.
“The new policy will make sure that open spaces are developed and the local public are given the first right to them,” said Kumar.
Meanwhile, activists say that they will oppose the new caretaker policy. Nayana Kathpalia of Citispace said that they will oppose the new policy.
“We want the caretaker policy to be scrapped for good. We don’t want to give away public plots to make way for private clubs,” he said.
Civic officials said that they will invite suggestion and objections from citizens after which the policy will be presented to the civic improvements committee and general body meeting for clearance before it is sent to the state government.