The plan to beautify the historic Five Gardens has spiralled into a citizen’s battle to save the open space.
Located in the old Parsi Colony neighbourhood in Dadar-Matunga, work on the 22,000 sqm Mancherji Edalji Joshi Gardens, as it is officially known, has been stalled for the past three months after locals joined hands and complained to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee about the revamp plan, drawn up by the municipal body.
The reason: citizens complain that the revamp will actually eat into area’s green space, mar its beauty and damage its heritage elements. The Five Gardens is a Grade II heritage precinct, which was laid out in the 1920s.
“We really want the Gardens restored. But many elements included in the first plan are unwanted,” said Ramona Reshamwala, a local who visits the place regularly. Shashikant Parchure (70), a resident of King Circle who frequents the Gardens, said: “The Gardens should be left as they are, without damaging their natural beauty.”
The civic body’s plan included replacing all the original railings and the cobblestones of the footpath around the Gardens. Other sore points were the proposal to build concrete seating, an amphitheatre and a bandstand in the central garden, along with a food plaza, all of which would reduce the garden space.
“We don’t want new construction in the garden premises, we want the space to be left open,” said another resident Tanaz Soonawallah. “There is also no need to replace the heritage railings, and building a walking track inside the Gardens depletes the green area.”
Residents convinced the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee to visit the spot, after which it stopped the revamp work and asked the civic body to submit a fresh plan taking into consideration the residents’ complaints.
Local corporator Raghunath Thawai, who is pushing for the revamp, said a modified plan is now being drawn up, which has got an in-principle approval from the MHCC.
He said the new plan would make the place beautiful. “There will be exclusive gardens like one for children, one for senior citizens, one will be a playground, one will have an informal set-up with for small gatherings,” said Thawai.