17% of city’s open space occupied by clubs

Mumbai: Only 1.28 sq.m. of the city’s space is available for every Mumbaikar, while 17% of public open spaces are occupied by clubs and gymkhanas, says a report titled ‘Endangered Future of Mumbai’s Open Spaces’ released by the Observer Research Foundation on Tuesday.

The report, released by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, said that the 17% occupied by clubs and gymkhanas is accessible only to 0.1% of the population, even though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation owns 43% of the area.

The report prepared by ORF’s Gautam Kirtane, Sayli Udas-Mankikar and Dwip Rachchh also noted that of the 3,780 acres of open spaces, the BMC owns only 1,322 acres, while the remaining plots are under the jurisdiction of other government agencies such as the Mumbai Port Trust, Public Works Department, Railways and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

Access and funds

“The aim of this report was to draw attention to these spaces, so that it improves their condition,” Ms. Udas-Mankikar said.

The report also questioned who actually had access to the few large open spaces still left in the city, such as the Mahalaxmi Race Course, Royal Willingdon Sports Club, Bombay Gymkhana and the multiple gymkhanas on Marine Drive.

Only 1.3% of the BMC’s budget for 2016-17 has been allotted for the Garden Department, the report said, while noting that parks and grounds, including the Azad Maidan in South Mumbai, were not in good condition.

Some suggestions

The ORF also came up with six recommendations to improve the situation. These include setting up a committee for public open spaces, transferring more power to ward committees, restructuring staff, setting up an outcome-orientated budget and using information technology in the Garden Department, for instance by creating an app for open spaces, like in Paris.

Several suggestions were based on 713 responses in a survey on how citizens want the city to change. The survey indicated that 39% of the people visit public open spaces daily, but most disliked unpleasant smell, garbage dumps, and the poor condition of toilets and drinking water facilities.

Most people surveyed felt that public parks fare very poorly in providing access to persons with disabilities. Of the 1,472 responses on what people dislike about public open spaces, 320 people flagged antisocial elements while 203 named hawkers inside or outside the parks.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 6:11:00 am |