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Mumbai civic body has reclaimed 1 of 29 open spaces in 3 months

Despite approving an interim policy in November, the BMC is yet to take back 28 recreational grounds, playgrounds, parks from private bodies

mumbai Updated: Feb 20, 2018 10:53 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai civic body,BMC,open space
Open space at South Indian Education Society in Sion that was reclaimed by the BMC.(Pramod Thakur/HT Photo)

Almost three months since the civic body passed its interim policy on open spaces, it has been able to reclaim possession of only one plot.

After approving the interim policy on November 24, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to take back 28 recreational grounds, playgrounds and parks from private bodies. In December, the BMC took back a 3,000-sqm playground in Sion (East) which was being maintained by the South Indian Education Society (SIES) for over a decade. Civic officials of the garden department said that the plot was handed over without any resistance. “The playground is located behind the SIES College and it was difficult for the public to access. It has been turned into a concrete basketball court. We will be converting it into a proper playground now,” said an official.

A trustee of SIES said on the condition of anonymity that the society has already re-applied as a caretaker under the new interim policy. He said, “Entry to the playground was never restricted. We maintained it well, even better than the BMC would have. Bodies that have maintained the plots well and not violated any norms should get preference during re-allotment.”

Following chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ order in January 2016, the BMC had to take back 216 open spaces given to NGOs, citizens’ groups and private entities for maintenance. Now, under the interim policy, private organisations will again get a chance to maintain the open spaces in the city for 11 months or for the period of time the main policy is approved.

The ones who were earlier in charge of those spaces, too, can apply for adoption. According to BMC’s superintendent of gardens Jitendra Pardeshi, repossession of the plots is being done in stages. “We will soon send notices to take back the remaining open spaces. If the caretakers do not hand over the spaces within 7 days of receiving notice, we still have the right to reclaim possession. As per procedure, we also file caveats in Bombay High Court in case they resist the re-possesssion,” said Pardeshi.

The caveat is a pre-emptive measure in case organisations who have received the notice create problems in handing over the plots.

However, of the 28 private bodies that are yet to hand over plots, five to six have moved the high court to issue stay orders.

Notices shall be sent to take back the remaining 22 spaces next month, confirmed an official who did not wish to be named.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 10:52 IST