Salisbury Park residents finally get new garden; inauguration on November 25

The new garden spread on 3.5 acres lies adjacent to the old Gool Poonawala garden at Salisbury Park, which is one of Pune’s upmarket areas
The residents of Salisbury Park have won an almost 20-year-old battle, with the garden that they fought so long for finally to be inaugurated on Thursday. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
The residents of Salisbury Park have won an almost 20-year-old battle, with the garden that they fought so long for finally to be inaugurated on Thursday. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
Published on Nov 24, 2021 11:08 PM IST
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BySiddharth Gadkari

The residents of Salisbury Park have won an almost 20-year-old battle, with the garden that they fought so long for finally to be inaugurated on Thursday. The new garden spread on 3.5 acres lies adjacent to the old Gool Poonawala garden at Salisbury Park, which is one of Pune’s upmarket areas.

It all started in 2004 when the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) issued a notification to de-reserve a plot of land originally earmarked for a garden and handed it over to a local builder. About 300 residents organised a rally in protest under the banner ‘Salisbury Park Residence Forum’ along with local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Shrinath Bhimale and filed a case in court which went on for several years.

In 2015, the Bombay high court directed the PMC to pay 18 crore to the district administration and take possession of the land. As the original owner did not object to the PMC acquiring the land, the civic body completed the legal formalities, took possession of the land, and began developing a garden on the plot that was earlier used to dump garbage in 2016. Even as work on the garden began, the PMC challenged the increased compensation amount which by subsequent HC ruling was referred to a larger bench in 2018 and further increased to 76 crore. The case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

Rajendra Thorat, deputy engineer of the land acquisition department of the PMC, said, “The PMC challenged the increased compensation amount of 71 crore calculated and decided by the Pune district administration. The case is in the Supreme Court and the hearing is complete. The verdict is expected in the second week of January 2022.”

With the garden having been completed this year, the PMC plans to inaugurate it at the hands of BJP state president Chandrakant Patil on Thursday.

Faizal Poonawala of Salisbury Park Residence Forum said that the garden has been developed very well and that all residents were involved in its planning and design. “We were involved along with corporator Bhimale in selecting the design. Lt Col (rtd) Dr Vedprakash Taneja guided us. The Salisbury Park Residence Forum was formed later and joined Dr Taneja. Originally, the garden land was open and being used as a garbage dump. That’s when we took up cudgels and shaped public opinion. The PMC was not willing to pay compensation to the builder though the land was reserved for a garden as per the development plan (DP).”

The garden has been developed on the lines of a topiary, with the trees and shrubs styled into shapes of animals and cartoons. There is a separate area for exercise with gym bars, a skating rink, flower beds, an amphitheatre and more.

Bhimale said, “It is a victory for the residents of Salisbury Park as their dream has finally come true. I am happy I have been a part of it and helped them fulfil their dream.”

Ashok Ghorpade, chief superintendent of the garden department, said that the PMC has completed all the work and that the garden is ready to be opened to the public. “We spent around 2.50 crore on developing the garden. Architect Avani Lodha from Aseem Gokarn Harwansh (AGH) Landscapes planned the garden. The entire garden area is now more than six-acre (Poonawala garden and new Salisbury garden).”

Timeline

1966 - Development plan – plot reserved for the garden

2004 - PMC de-reserved garden reservation

2004 - Salisbury Park residents file case in high court

2014 - Local corporator stages andolan in PMC to pay money to the builder

2015 - Bombay high court orders PMC to restore reservation and acquire land

2016 - PMC pays 18 crore to the builder but builder claims 71 crore compensation as per the district collector award order. PMC starts work on the garden

2018 - PMC challenges Pune district administration for award – case pending in Supreme Court

November 2021 - garden completed

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Sunday, December 05, 2021