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NGO seeks Maharashtra government’s intervention to reclaim open spaces in Mumbai

NAGAR writes to CM Devendra Fadnavis, wants commercial and discriminatory use of public spaces to stop

mumbai Updated: Mar 03, 2018 14:25 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,BMC,brihanmumbai municipal corporation
Veer Sambhaji ground in Mulund (East) is a prominent open space in Mumbai. (HT FILE)

While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been facing flak for delaying repossession of its open spaces and implementation of the new open spaces policy, NAGAR, a city-based non-governmental organisation, has called for the state’s attention on the matter.

On February 27, NAGAR, which works for the preservation of public open spaces, wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, asking the state government to stop the commercial and discriminatory use of public spaces and frame the open spaces policy as soon as possible. Nayna Kathpalia, a trustee of the NGO, writes that the BMC “wishes to find a way to allow these defaulters to continue in possession of the open spaces and have surprisingly framed a completely faulty 11-month interim policy. This is unjustified and not in keeping with the state directives.”

After the civic body passed an interim policy in November to allow private organisations to maintain the plots, city activists had started an online petition against it. On similar lines, municipal councillors, citing the commercial use of open spaces, have been demanding that the BMC maintain its spaces by itself, instead of appointing private bodies under its interim policy.

Significantly, most of the remaining plots yet to be repossessed are maintained by senior BJP and Shiv Sena leaders. NAGAR stated that in view of policy breaches, the BMC should have terminated the caretakers’ agreement immediately.

In addition, in 2016, the NGO had proposed a plan of action for restoring, managing and maintaining all spaces to ensure that they are accessible to all and not compromised by construction. Claiming that the proposal has been in cold storage since then, NAGAR’s letter requested the CM to re-examine, revive and use it as basis for forming the new and final open spaces policy.

Since Fadnavis’ orders in January 2016 to reclaim open spaces that were in custody of private organisations, the BMC has been able to take back 188 of the 216 spaces. Of the 28 spaces that are remaining, BMC has yet to send notices to take back 20 odd spaces and the rest have stay orders from court.

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 14:25 IST