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10-Acre Garden in Dadar not in use for the public

10-Acre Garden in Dadar not in use for the public
MUMBAI: In a city gasping for a breath of fresh air, citizens have been deprived of the use of one of its largest gardens for nearly seven months now.

The 42,000-sq metre (10.38-acre) garden in Dadar, in the heart of the city, which has been ready since September 2014, has still not been inaugurated, thanks to a tussle between two departments in the BMC and the alleged disinterest shown by the political establishment.

The garden, located on the premises of a defunct Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Senapati Bapat Marg (Tulsi Pipe Road), is named after late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan. The STP had shut down in 1999 and the space had been lying unutilised for more than a decade, before the BMC's Sewerage Operations (SO) department decided to redevelop it.

A garden, along with two buildings for the SO and Storm Water Drains (SWD) department, was developed in 2014 at a cost of Rs 30 crore. This was the first time the SO department had developed a garden in the city.

Missing out

The sprawling garden consists of lush lawns, a lotus pond, a covered structure called Prism to house smaller shrubs, and a hillock lined with potted flowering plants. The hillock has benches for visitors, which offer panoramic views of the entire garden.

The garden was supposed to be inaugurated after the code of conduct for the October Assembly elections ceased to be in force, but still hasn't seen the light of day. According to BMC officials, the key reason for the garden not being inaugurated is an inter-departmental tussle between the Sewerage Operations and the Gardens department.

The garden can be inaugurated only after the SO department hands it over to the Gardens wing, which it claims it hasn't done because the latter is yet to appoint a contractor for its maintenance. The Gardens department, on the other hand, says the contractor has been appointed and the SO department is delaying the handover.

Both departments, however, were united in blaming politicians for not inaugurating the garden. "It was the first time our department developed such a garden. And we have been maintaining it even though that is not our job. We are ready to hand over the charge of the garden, but the Gardens department, it seems, hasn't finalised on a contractor yet.

As soon as they do it, we will complete the handover. As for the inauguration, that's a political matter. I can't say how long it will take," said Vipinkumar Pandey, chief engineer, Sewerage Operations (SO) department. Vijay Hire, superintendent of BMC's Gardens department, however, said, "We have finalised on a contractor and a work order has been issued recently. The total cost of maintenance for three years will be Rs 8 crore.

Things have been completed from our end. But I really can't say when it will be inaugurated. It is a political decision." Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas, who is in charge of civic gardens, said, "A work order has been issued and the charge will officially be handed over to the Gardens department soon. But I don't know when it will be inaugurated, or by whom."

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