Over 60% of ‘open’ spaces in city inaccessible to public: Study

Even as just six per cent of the city’s area is reserved for open spaces as per the development plan,a recent study shows that over 60 per cent of these spaces are in reality not open and accessible to the common man.

Written by Express News Service | Published: August 29, 2012 3:24 am

Even as just six per cent of the city’s area is reserved for open spaces as per the development plan,a recent study shows that over 60 per cent of these spaces are in reality not open and accessible to the common man.

As per a study funded by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA),there are a total of 3,246 existing and proposed open spaces in the city as marked in the development plan of 1991. However,only 1,247 of these spaces are accessible to the public.

The study further shows that 835,about 26 per cent,of the 3,246 open spaces are occupied by structures and hence are not in use as open spaces. Another 756,roughly 23 per cent,are not developed and are lying vacant.

Of the remaining 1,655 sites,406 or about 13 per cent have entry restrictions as they are used by private clubs or institutions,leaving the city with just 1,247 sites,or 38 per cent,of open spaces that accessible. These sites,openly accessible with unrestricted entry,are spread across 1,053 hectares of land,resulting in a per capita availability of open spaces of 0.88 square metres.

“The study indicated that most Mumbaikars have open spaces within a five-minute walking distance,but these open spaces are not fully utilised,” said Neera Adarkar of Adarkar Associates,a consultant for the study.

The report was prepared over the past three years by the MMRDA’s MMR Environment Improvement Society with two consultants on board,namely Mumbai’s Adarkar Associates and Ahmedabad’s HCP-Design Project Management. The study has resulted in one comprehensive report for each of the city’s 24 wards,one separate report on water bodies and one report giving the executive summary. The reports were released on Tuesday.

“This information has been passed on to the civic body six months ago,” said Uma Adusumilli,director of the Environment Improvement Society. The data is expected to be useful in the ongoing work on the city’s development plan for 2014-2034.

The report lists several factors contributing to the lack of accessibility and the under-utilization of the city’s open spaces. Many of these sites don’t have an approach road. For example,T ward has several open spaces as per development plan reservations,but many of these spaces don’t have a direct approach road as shown in the development plan.

In many cases,even though the policy of the Brihanumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) states that playgrounds attached to educational institutions should be available to the public outside of working hours,many such spaces don’t have direct approach roads from public areas. Insufficient visibility of these open spaces also result in them being under utilised.

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