Staff Reporter

There is an acute shortage of gardeners

Maintenance of over 400 parks has been outsourced

Bangalore: Is your neighbourhood park unsightly, full of litter and badly maintained? Apart from a neglectful public, blame it on shortage of gardeners in the horticulture wing of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the loopholes in the agreements signed with the private contractors, who maintain a majority of the parks.

Of the about 500 parks existing in the three zones (East, West and South) of the old areas of the city, the responsibility of maintaining over 400 parks has been outsourced to private contractors and only about 100 parks are maintained by BBMP’s horticulture wing. A majority of the parks in the newly added five zones are yet to be developed.

According to top officials, nearly 40 per cent of the total of about 800 gardeners in the horticulture wing been deputed to various other wings of the BBMP. Gardening is a physically demanding job and situation has made the job of existing gardeners tougher as they have to maintain medians of the roads and junctions, apart from maintaining parks. “It has, to some extent, has resulted in irregular cleaning of parks maintained by the BBMP,” admitted an official.

Some of the parks, maintenance of which have been outsourced, face the problem of poor maintenance due to certain loopholes in the contractual agreement such as the number of maintenance personnel to be compulsorily deployed every day, pointed out an officer.

The BBMP is paying a minimum of Rs. 6,000 a park as salary for two security personnel every month apart from paying annual maintenance charge at Rs 19.72 per square metre in cases of outsourcing. Monitoring of maintenance work at each park every day is difficult as all the parks in a zone is headed by only one horticulture superintendent. Each zone has an average 150 parks, the officials pointed out.

Though in some cases the notices were issued to contractors for failing to properly maintain the parks there are no recent instances where the BBMP has cancelled any contract. In many cases, the notices were issued following complaints from Residents’ Welfare Associations.