The fight to save the city’s open spaces is far from over. In a blow to citizens’ groups, who have been campaigning against the contentious open spaces policy, the ruling partners in the BMC — the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — at odds with each other over the policy, have now decided to approve it.
After dawdling over the policy known as the Recreation Ground/ Playground (RG/PG) policy for more than two months, the Sena finally convinced the BJP to approve it, albeit some amendments, in an informal meeting between the allies on Tuesday. The BJP, which was against the policy — its city chief Ashish Shelar even stated the policy will be referred back — is now likely to be approve it in the next general body meeting.
The Sena, with its 75 members in 227 members in the general body, needed the BJP’s support with the opposition demanding scrapping the policy.
After the BJP extended its support to citizen groups and announced the policy will not be approved in its present format, the Sena maintained a silence over the policy for more than two months and kept on delaying the policy, fearing a lack of votes.
Officials, too, had expressed their willingness to discuss the policy, even if it is passed in the general body meeting. SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, also in-charge of the gardens department, in a panel discussion organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in November, said, “We will take all the suggestions made by citizens in a positive manner. There have been times when a policy has been passed, but we have brought in amendments by issuing a circular. We can do the same again. We can also debate on the circular later on.”
“If the BJP wanted, they could have asked for a revision of the policy, instead of waiting for amendments after the policy is passed. Their stand now is quite shocking,” said Meher Rafat, trustee, NAGAR.