Mumbai: Corporators hankering for `study tours’ seem to be back in vogue after a self-imposed hiatus. After coming in for severe flak for what was seen as an unnecessary waste of public funds, corporators of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had themselves resolved to stop study tours in 2016. Now, a slew of such proposals are being mooted again by them.

FPJ has learnt that BMC’s Works Committee chairman Datta Pongade of the Shiv Sena recently proposed a study tour to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with the stated aim being to study the drainage system there and borrow ideas that can be replicated in Mumbai to tackle water-logging.

The proposal for the tour has been amended by another member Shraddha Jadhav of Shiv Sena, who proposed a study tour to Chandigarh instead. The proposal has been sent to municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi for approval, and the committee members are confident of getting a nod for the trip.

“Initially, the Chairman suggested a study tour to Jammu and Kashmir, but later Andaman and Nicobar Islands was suggested. However, I felt since standing committee members have visited Andaman and Nicobar in the past, we would learn more from a tour to Chandigarh, which is a very well-planned city.

The city has a rock garden, rose garden, among other public amenities. We are expecting approval for the study tour soon,” said Jadhav. The civic Improvements Committee has also proposed a study tour to visit Bengaluru, Ooty and Mysuru.

Chairman of the Improvements Committee Sadanand Parab, of the Shiv Sena, said, “The proposal will be sanctioned soon, as it is common practice for corporators to go on study tours to get new ideas that can be implemented in our city.

We intend to have discussions with the municipal corporations of Bengaluru, Mysuru and Ooty.”

“We want to learn how they have developed public gardens in these cities, how trees and plants are chosen keeping in mind the local environment, as well as to study factors such as landscaping and location of the gardens – whether they are near highways or residential colonies.

Our Development Plan officers will also be with us and there will be presentation sessions by them”, said Parab. Past experience has shown that study tours under various pretexts to other cities or countries end up being nothing more than paid junkets for corporators.

Recommendations based on these trips, if cited at all, remain only on paper. Corporators have also visited the same cities or countries on multiple occasions, but these trips have failed to yield any benefits for the city.

“The corporators only need to open their eyes. When they are in our city they will find enough things that need to be improved. They can seek suggestions and objections from Mumbaikars.

Is it because corporators cannot see the garbage, potholes and other problems in the city that they have to go to other cities?,” questioned activist Zoru Bhathena.

“You don't need to go to other cities to find solutions for your own city. For instance, there is not a single qualified planner in the BMC, and if they don't have a person who knows how to plan a city, what they will do?

Let them enjoy their holiday. Thank God, at least they are going to cities in India, and not demanding trips to Dubai and Germany," Bhathena added.

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