Should Mumbai civic body’s gardens charge fee? Locals divided
While Mumbaiites would love to have more well-maintained leisure spaces in the congested city, many are not keen to pay a fee for the same. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had called for suggestions over drafting a policy on the upkeep of the city’s gardens.
While it has received nearly 300 suggestions, the public was divided on the idea of paying for the maintenance through entry fees. The BMC has said that while some citizens said that a fee should be charged, many want public spaces to remain free.
“We will draft a policy wherein it will be decided whether to charge a nominal fee for entry or not. The opinions that we have got from citizens are divided. Some say charge a nominal fee as it will help, while others say the BMC should not charge as it is a public space,” said Ashutosh Salil, joint-municipal commissioner, BMC.
Many have also suggested that more focus be given to creating facilities for pets; designing a garden eco-system which works for the physically-challenged; extending the timings of gardens and more.
“There are a few points on which there is no clear consensus, and both sides have credible rationale for their stance. These points pertain to whether there should be a nominal entry fee; what should be done for the boundary of the gardens, and conducting events, functions or workshops at the gardens,” said a BMC official.
The BMC is in the process of drafting a policy regarding the 1,068 gardens and playgrounds in the city, with the aim of improving them. The civic body plans to incorporate the suggestions it received from citizens, in its upcoming policy on gardens.
“Some of the suggestions have been very useful, like extending the timings of the gardens. We are also going to involve NGOs who can give us more insights while drafting a policy on open spaces,” said Salil.
Meanwhile, Hutokshi Rustomfram, trustee of Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation, said, “Unfettered access to open spaces and parks, and the right of all citizens to use these is a part of the fundamental right to life. There should be no entry fee, nominal or otherwise, to enter gardens in the city.”
Another citizen who has been involved in maintaining of gardens in the city, Nayana Kathpalia said, “I think it is discriminatory to charge entry fees for using public open spaces. I have been involved in the maintenance of gardens in the city like Horniman Circle Garden, and we managed to maintain them without charging entry fees by getting donations.” Kathpalia suggested that the BMC could keep the fee optional.