Under fire from various citizens’ groups over the proposed open spaces policy, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to get the policy inspected and ‘dissected’ by citizens.
The civic body will put the policy on its website so that citizens can go through the entire text, including the fine print.
Sources said this move was the result of concerns expressed by civic chief Swadheen Kshatriya about alienating citizens and activists, who had opposed the move to introduce the policy.
Even the Bombay High Court, hearing a petition filed by a Borivli resident expressing concerns about the policy, had directed the BMC to seek objections and suggestions before finalising the policy.
A senior civic official, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said, “Even before the HC order, the civic chief had issued instructions to publicise the policy and get feedback from citizens, especially from activists opposing it. Hence, putting it up on the website will be the first step. We’ll publicise it by issuing advertisements in newspapers, exhorting citizens to check the website.”
Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner, said, “Since there are clear directions from the HC on this, we will be going to the public, seeking their opinion and then finalising the policy accordingly. But, currently, the policy is with the BMC chief and we are waiting for his approval.”
However, a reliable source in Kshatriya’s office said, “Kshatriya has already approved the policy. As there was considerable heat generated over the policy, officials weren’t too keen on putting the policy up for public display and decided to postpone it.”
Kshatriya couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Activist Nayana Kathpalia of Citispace said that this wasn’t good enough. “Not everyone in the city has access to websites. If the BMC is really serious about it, then it should publish the policies in major dailies of all languages and make it available at the ward level too – in both English and Marathi.”
Responding to this, an official from the Gardens department said, “Publishing the entire policy in newspapers is not feasible, since it is a long draft. But, we’ll ensure that it is made accessible to people from all strata.”