With the recreation ground/playground (RG/PG) policy, also known as open space policy, under the civic chief’s review for the past six months, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now set to introduce a new category as part of the review process. Civic officials said that the new category will allow the private entities, citizens’ groups, NGOs to continue maintaining the open spaces on adoption basis, in spite of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s orders to the BMC in January to take back over 200 plots that were not in its possession.
After reviewing various plots and meeting several citizens’ groups, BMC’s garden department has identified 27 gardens/playgrounds in the first phase which can be maintained by private citizens provided they comply with three conditions: non-discriminatory access, free of charge entry and adherence to timings decided by the BMC.
Currently, 120 plots have been taken back in various phases as per Fadnavis’s order and about 96 plots still remain to be returned.
Since its passage by the general body, the open spaces policy has met severe opposition as it leaves windows open for exploitation by private players.
“There will be no hoardings or advertisements allowed in the public open spaces. The 27 plots that we are proposing are maintained well by private entities and that too for free of cost and there is no harm in letting them continue to maintain these plots,” said, one official, who is involved in drafting the policy. He added, “We will consider 120 plots that are willing to move to this new category.”
The garden department of BMC will incorporate new category as an addition to the policy subject to various approvals, including that of the general body of municipal councilors, sources revealed. The proposal however is likely to come before the group leaders’ by end of this month.
This move of the civic body has not gone down well with activists. “The problem is that why the civic body can’t maintain its own plots as they have enough funds. It depends on private entities instead. What if the private entities that are currently doing a good job, turn turtle and fraud the BMC? Will those 27 plots be taken back, then?” Nayana Kathpalia, NAGAR trustee, said.