Free Press Journal

99% Mumbaikars can’t access open spaces


Mumbai: The Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Tuesday evening unveiled an alarming report on the endangered future of Mumbai’s open spaces made by three members named Gautam Kirtane, Sayli Mankikar and Dwip Rachchh in presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis, in Mumbai.

In the report, the ORF has stated that 99.9 per cent of all Mumbaikars do not have access to 17 per cent of total public open space as they are owned by private gymkhanas and caretakers. The ORF report states that the total available Public Open Spaces (POS) in Mumbai stands at 1,538 hectares (3,780 acres).

This gives Mumbaikars an abysmally low average of 1.28 metre of open space per capita. While the civic body only owns 43 per cent of the total POS amounting to 534 hectares (1,322 acres).

Speaking on the occasion, CM Fadnavis remarked that such reports act as a social audit of government schemes. As they (government) only do a financial audit. Such reports suggest guidelines during policy making. He also ensured that more urban space would be created for which within one-month time Urban Art Aesthetic Commission would be set up in Mumbai, like the Delhi Urban Art Commission.

Fadnavis also claimed that in just 1.5 years’ time period he cleared 70 pending proposals except, Mumbai Development Plan for 2014-34 which has just come to the state. “State has 18 months’ time to approve the DP and sent it to BMC for final implementation. But within next six months, that is by February the DP would be approved.” Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of ORF Mumbai, remarked that there is a loud cry for help for the endangered Mumbai’s open spaces.

He said, “In a city of mostly nano-sized houses, public open spaces are the living rooms for the communities. It is a basic right of the poor and common man. Most of the people do not live in dignity with a proper apartment, many live in tiny spaces. In fact, such cases, open public space only act as drawing rooms for them.”

Kulkarni further suggested to make comprehensive policy for open space, also to transform 400 acres of racecourse land of Mahalaxmi to create nature park and also to preserve places like Azad Maidan, August Kranti Maidan which has the glorious contribution in India’s freedom struggle.