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Take over 28 open spaces in Mumbai, stop their misuse, councillors tell civic body

BMC should maintain the open spaces itself, including south Mumbai’s Priyadarshini park, demanded councillors

mumbai Updated: Feb 22, 2018 09:55 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,BMC,open spaces
Councillors have alleged that the open spaces, which are yet to be re-possessed by the civic body, are being leased out for commercial purposes. (HT File Photo)

The use or misuse of open spaces in the city was again under focus on Wednesday, as councillors demanded that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) maintain its open spaces by itself, instead of appointing private bodies, according to its open spaces policy.

Councillors have alleged that the open spaces, which are yet to be re-possessed by the BMC, are being leased out for commercial purposes.

BJP leader Manoj Kotak said: “What is the need for private bodies to maintain these spaces? All 28 remaining spaces that are yet to be taken back are being misused. The BMC should maintain its spaces by itself.”

Of the 216 open spaces that were given to NGOs, citizens’ groups and private entities for maintenance, the BMC has been able to take back 188 over the last two years. HT reported on February 19 that only one space has been taken back in the last three months. Significantly, most of the remaining plots are maintained by senior BJP and Shiv Sena leaders.

Some of the open spaces that the BMC is yet to take back include Swatantra Veer Savarkar Udyan in Borivli and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Kridangan in Kandivli (both maintained by BJP MP Gopal Shetty’s Poisar Gymkhana); St Xavier’s ground in Parel, maintained by Mumbai District Football Association, which is chaired by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray.

According to Rais Shaikh, councillor and leader of Samajwadi Party (SP), south Mumbai’s Priyadarshini Park is one of the most exploited spaces.

Shaikh raised the issue in the committee meeting on Wednesday. “The caretakers of the park have been overcharging schools for conducting events such as annual day. Many schools do not have their own open spaces. In the last three months, schools like Safa High School and Junior College and Wonderkids Precschool have complained that they are being charged up to Rs80,000 per day.”

Priyadarshini park is currently being maintained by Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum (MHCF), which has been opposing the repossession in court.

In response to the allegation, BA Desai, president of MHCF, said: “A maximum of Rs30,000 plus taxes was charged per day for school events from November to February only. This money is spent on the arrangements and security, and on the maintenance of the park. We do not charge BMC schools. All transactions are cashless and registered with the BMC.”

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 09:54 IST