Barely a month after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) gardens department planted flowering plants along traffic medians in the city, and the Marine Drive stretch was among the first ones to be planted, the wilting of those plants have begun.
BMC has selected petunias, a seasonal flowering plant, native to South America, for traffic medians. On Marine Drive, these flowers are seen hanging from streetlights on the stretch as well. According to botanist and taxonomist Marseline Almeida, petunias can tolerate the heat and humidity of the city, but they last for just two to three months. Every three months, the contractor would have to remove the dead plants and replant, spending a huge amount each time, said Swarn Kohli, president and founder of the Nariman Point Churchgate Citizens Association (NPCCA).
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Deputy Municipal Commissioner SS Shinde, however, said the project was undertaken to beautify the traffic islands and medians throughout the city, and the plantation and maintenance is done by private contractors, not BMC’s gardens department. He also said that the petunias along the Madam Cama Road medians in front of Mantralaya was planted over the weekend. Kohli said that NPCCA had suggested to the BMC to plant colourful crotons (tropical perennial shrubs with bold, colorful foliage), and thorny plants, instead. It will not only beautify the strech, but will also prevent pedestrians from crossing the busy Marine Drive stretch, he added.
“These plants need little maintenance as they are perennial and work well with heavy rain. But BMC, without any information or deliberation with the association, has gone ahead and planted the seven to eight inches short annual petunias. These will dry up soon and look even worse than before. This makes no sense,” said Kohli.
The gardens department has spent Rs 12 lakh in A-Ward alone to plant these flowers, and the work of planting along 100 traffic medians and islands is in progress, said Vijay Hire, superintendent of gardens.The association has recently written to the gardens department and BMC’s heritage committee, complaining about these flowers.
The residents had earlier chosen the Barringtonia flowering plants near NCPA, after three months of discussion, as they survive high winds and the monsoon.
Besides the flowering plants, the association has also written to BMC about the short bollards atop the median divider on the Marine Drive stretch being replaced by cement structures.
A reply to an RTI query by an NPCCA member revealed that Rs 12.50 lakh had been spent on removing the central dividers, bollards and plants from the Air India building till the junction of the Marine Plaza hotel, while Rs 34.63 lakh had been spent on rebuilding the central dividers without bollards and plants.