Citizens, along with opposition parties like Congress and MNS, strongly opposed the BMC's garden adoption policy. A heated discussion took place at the BMC headquarters on Friday, led by Suburban Guardian Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha. Present at the meeting were BMC Deputy Commissioner Kishore Gandhi and Garden Superintendent Jitendra Pardeshi.
Congress corporators boycott public hearing called by Lodha
During the hearing, Congress corporators, including Ashraf Aami, Sheetal Mhatre, and Mohsin Haider, created a ruckus and boycotted the public hearing called by Lodha. Mhatre expressed discontent, stating, "The guardian minister has no right to hold such a public hearing. All BJP corporators were present, but only three Congress corporators were informed at the eleventh hour. I was not allowed to speak for more than two minutes. How can I voice my objection in such a short time? It shows Lodha doesn't want to listen to our objections and intends to approve the policy with the help of BMC officers."
Mhatre further questioned BMC's approach, saying, "There are 26 gardens and open places in Mumbai in the hands of private entities as per the previous policy. Instead of reclaiming these spaces, BMC is willing to reimburse half of the amount paid to those entities. What kind of policy is this?"
RTI activist demands municipality to care for open spaces
RTI Activist Anil Galgali demanded that the municipality should care for open spaces in Mumbai rather than adopting them. He also called for detailed information about grounds, parks, and open land given for 11 months to be uploaded on the website.
Mangalprabhat Lodha directed the gardens department to decide on the open space adoption policy within thirty days. He emphasized that BMC must maintain the gardens and proposed the formation of a committee, including members from citizens and NGOs, to monitor maintenance. Lodha also directed the development of playgrounds through Public-Private Participation (PPP), urging BMC to seek assistance from sports authorities or sports institutes for high-quality services for Mumbaikars.
In a final directive, Lodha instructed BMC to make decisions on the 26 open places given for adoption in the past.