While it has 700 gardeners on its payroll, the civic administration has outsourced the upkeep
of its gardens to private companies for Rs 155 crore.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) finalised contractors for maintaining 142
such gardens and open spaces Friday. This takes the total number of gardens and open spaces handed over to private contractors to 469.
In all, BMC has 1,052 open plots together measuring 1,200 acres, which include gardens, recreational grounds and playgrounds.
“These contractors are appointed for a period of three years for upkeep and maintenance of
gardens. We have huge open spaces and it is difficult to maintain them with the limited manpower,” S S Shinde, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens), said.
The BMC, meanwhile, continues to pay a monthly salary of Rs 15,000 to each of its gardeners.
“We do not need contractors if we add to the existing strength of gardeners. A proposal to recruit an additional 750 gardeners have been sent to the civic administration,” said Shubha Raul, Shiv Sena corporator and Tree Authority member.
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The garden contracts, which were awarded after a delay of two years, have also been bid at low
prices, said civic officials. The bids for maintaining the gardens, which were constructed
over the last three years, were in the range of 50 to 60 per cent below the base price fixed by the BMC to just five per cent above it.
The base price is different for the seven zones, depending on the number of gardens in each zone. “If the contractors have bid at such low prices, the quality of work will be very poor as they will try to cut costs,” Raul said. Although the civic administration was able to spend six per cent of its capital budget allocated to gardens this year, it has increased its budget allocation for gardens to Rs 530 crore for the next fiscal as compared to Rs 375 crore in the 2013-14 fiscal.