BMC’s meeting on maintenance of open spaces runs into controversy

MUMBAI: The BMC’s new interim policy for maintenance of open spaces in Mumbai has run into a controversy with politicians from opposition parties, along with a handful of activists, questioning the need for the civic body to create any third party interests in public open plots. Aheated, closed-door meeting over the issue was held on Tuesday evening at the civic headquarters between a few activists and opposition party members with BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta.

The meeting is learned to have witnessed tempers fly while activists raised questions over the interim maintenance policy, soon to be tabled in the BMC. Activist Anjali Damania, who also among the team of activists who met the commissioner, is learned to have left the meeting half way. In a press conference held later, Damania said, “The commissioner was only interested in listening to elected representatives and not citizens. This was shocking and I realized there was no point in sitting through the meeting and hence walked out of it.“

RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi, also present for the meeting, said the BMC should not create any third-party interest. “The BMC is not able to stop encroachments on several of its own plots. How can one expect that these open plots would be protected if third-party interests are created?“ questioned Gandhi. Sanjay Nirupam, president of Mumbai regional Congress committee, said, “Congress demands all plots be taken back by the BMC immediately .“

BMC chief Ajoy Mehta said it was a misconception that any third-party interests would be created. “If citizen groups want to maintain the open plots free of cost and allow unrestricted access, there is no question of creating any third-party interests. We are going ahead with the process of taking back the remaining plots which were being maintained by trusts and citizen groups,“ he said.

TOI last week had reported that the BMC chief has sanctioned the new interim policy for maintenance of open spaces wherein private organizations would be given open spaces for 11 months.

Credits ET Realty

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