BMC won’t pay for upgrade of gardens, parksUpdated: Oct 28, 2019, 00:46 IST
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to not pay ‘upgrade cost’ to citizen groups, trusts and NGOs willing to maintain its open spaces, playgrounds and gardens in order to cut costs. In a tender floated for handing over open spaces to citizen bodies, the civic body stated that it will only pay maintenance cost to the caretakers. The tender did not mention the requirement of any upgrade like horticulture or landscaping.
Activists and citizen groups have slammed the move citing that there will be no assurance of good maintenance if the civic body does not pay the upgrade cost.
The civic body carries out maintenance as well as upgrade of open spaces across the city. It is also working on a permanent open spaces adoption policy that will allow citizen groups, trusts and NGOs to maintain these open spaces. The policy is set to be finalised by the year-end.
However, BMC is now hoping that the new adoptees will take care of the upgrade of the open spaces. A tender recently floated for maintaining around 400 gardens did not mention the requirement of upgrade.
The new tender will only cover the maintenance of the gardens for a year. The total cost of this tender is ₹70 crore, whereas the previous tenders, which included the upgrade component, used to cost more than ₹100 crore.
A senior civic official said, “Unlike a three-year period contract of maintenance, this is just a one-year contract. Hence, we decided to remove the upgrade requirement from the contract, which could help us save a lot of money. Once the spaces are handed over to the new adoptees according to the permanent adoption policy, we will decide upon which spaces will be upgraded and how the upgrade of the rest will be taken care of.”
Nikhil Desai, citizen activist, said, “Firstly, I do not agree with the adoption policy. The BMC has enough funds and resources to maintain, upgrade and run open spaces. With the changes in this tender, how will we ensure that the gardens will be upgraded by the adoptees? The BMC is spending a lot of money on Coastal Road which is not theirs. Taking care of gardens is one of their primary jobs, which they want to give to adoptees. The policy may give a back-door entry to private players and the open spaces will be encroached upon in no time.”
In November 2017, the BMC had come up with an interim policy to avoid misuse of open spaces by private players.
The policy stated that private bodies can maintain open spaces as long as they provide non-discriminatory access and free entry to citizens, and don’t give permission to commercial or political activities.
Those interested in wanting to maintain the open spaces will have to apply to a ward-level committee comprising civic officials, who will scrutinize their eligibility and allot the spaces accordingly.
The interim policy will be applicable until the new adoption policy is rolled out.