Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT),the second largest landowner in the city,has invited an expression of interest (EOI) from corporate entities for adopting its sprawling gardens that collectively measure 60,900 square metres in size.
According to Rajeev Gupta,chairman of the Trust,the decision has been taken given the rising cost of maintaining the large green plots located in prime real estate areas of the island city.
During the development of Sassoon Docks way back in 1989,the MbPT had developed a 46,000-sqm botanical garden,Sagar Upvan,in Colaba at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore. At present,the All India Association of Industries maintains this famous green space on an adoption basis.
Similarly,five plots adjoining the MbPT hospital in Wadala (E),which together measure up to 14,900 square metres in size,will also be included in the adoption. Both gardens have a rich variety of flora and fauna with 28 rare species of plants from across the globe housed in the famous Colaba botanical garden alone.
The main idea is to cut costs. Every month,the Trust spends roughly Rs 2.5-3 lakh in the maintenance of these gardens. Additionally,there are so many invisible costs that the Trust incurs on these plots. So we felt it was best to open up a little more. We will be relaxing some of the rules of our adoption policy,as the previous organisations found some of the conditions of the contract too restrictive, said Gupta.
While public access to the gardens will remain unrestricted,by relaxation of norms,the Trust intends to expand the current use of the plots as community spaces with the introduction of an art gallery,a coffee shop,a gym,and live performances. Presently,mainly the 600 metres of jogging track is used in the mornings and evenings,but we would like to extract more from these beautiful spaces. We will follow the rules on timings and noise prevalent in the city and the entry fee to these gardens will minimally increase to Rs 5 per person, Gupta said.
The adoption model for the maintenance of gardens has been planned on a leave and licence basis. These areas are a gold mine if one considers real estate prices,but we are determined to keep them for the public and are not leasing our properties. Interested corporate entities can gain from this through soft publicity and advertising opportunities that will be made available through maintenance of the parks. We will build a corpus fund from the revenue from activities we intend to hold and will use the same for maintenance of the plots, Gupta said.