The city might soon get more than 400 developed open and green spaces, but how good their condition will be remains to be seen.
And if the civic body’s recent actions are anything to go by, it seems unlikely that the gardens will be ‘world-class’, as being promised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
This is why. The BMC has slashed the project cost from Rs102 crore to Rs48 crore, but it has received bids 30-50% below estimate yet again.
The proposal has been tendered twice before because of low bids, but instead of inspecting the cause, the civic body decided to slash the project cost.
What this means is that if the civic body has estimated the cost of developing these gardens at Rs100, the contractors have claimed they can carry out the work for Rs50 to Rs70.
The Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) standing committee on Tuesday cleared the contentious project, even though many corporators pointed out the discrepancies in the proposal.
Senior civic official, however, said the quality of gardens will not be compromised. “The project cost is reduced as we have floated two separate tenders, one for developing 224 gardens and another for maintenance of 205,” said an official, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
With contractors agreeing to work at low rates, coporators fear the gardens in the city will continue to be in bad shape. Sandeep Deshpande, MNS group leader, alleged the contractors were calling all the shots.
“This is the third time the tenders were invited for one project, but the civic body has failed to give information on why they are receiving such low bids. If this is the case, I don’t think the conditions of the gardens will improve,” he said.
According to the proposal, the contractors will develop open spaces, construct pathways, install play and gymnasium apparatus in six months and then maintain them for three years.
The city’s open spaces have been characterised by poor maintenance. Corporators and activists have often complained of neighbourhood parks being in bad shape.
“It is often seen that the contractors don’t maintain the garden after developing them. Even after a bad track record, we are giving out open spaces to be maintained by contractors for three years, while the existing parks continue to be in bad shape,” said Sheetal Mhatre, a Congress corporator.