Open spaces are once again in danger of being neglected in the next few months. Of the total budget of Rs130 crore, the civic body still has around Rs85 crore to spend on open spaces. But, it doesn’t know how to go about utilising the money.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has failed to appoint contractors in time for works to be carried out in the garden.
The civic body has to allocate the funds before March 31, 2012, to prevent them from lapsing. However, with civic elections to be held in February, the BMC has little time before the code of conduct is enforced, thus restricting expenditure.
Corporators insisting on beautification works in gardens in their wards aren’t helping either. In 2008, the civic body had appointed garden works contractors (GWCs) for two years.
Although their term expired in March 2010, they were given a year’s extension, which expired in March this year. Since then, the civic body has failed to appoint new contractors, mostly because of the litigation filed by the old ones, challenging the civic body’s move.
A GWC contractor, not wishing to be named, said, “Although our contract expired, we continue to maintain most of the gardens we had worked on. Hence, we want the BMC to come up with a system where two contractors don’t work in the same garden, so that there is no conflict of interest.”
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “We are not too keen on appointing the same contractors. We are exploring our options now. Our first option is to install fences and gates in open spaces where none exists to stop encroachments. The second one is to appoint a separate agency which will carry out minor beautification works in these gardens.”
Standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said the issue would be resolved soon. “We are trying to see if we can at least have basic upgradation of the gardens using the remaining funds. We will mostly be having a separate agency and floating tenders for each garden accordingly.”
Meanwhile, the BMC will upgrade and beautify 23 gardens across the city, costing around Rs1 crore each.