The BMC has allocated Rs 362.17 crore as capital expenditure for the gardens department for 2014-2015 fiscal, an increase of 58.49 per cent from the current year’s allocation of Rs 228.50 crore. This despite the fact that the gardens department spent only 6.25 per cent of its budget up to November 2013.
Despite failing to use Rs 3 crore allocated for conservation and development of water bodies, the civic administration has increased the allocation for the same to Rs 20 crore for the next fiscal. The project also includes a proposal to beautify the Bandra talao, formerly known as Lotus Tank, a Grade II heritage site. In the initial stage, out of the 51 wetlands, lakes and water bodies in BMC’s possession, four lakes — Bandra Talao, Chandivali lake, Charia lake in Chembur and Kalina lake — will be considered for development.
“Action should be taken against authorities who haven’t ensured that work starts within the planned period. Delaying these projects causes cost escalation,” said Niranjan Shetty, nominated member of the Tree Authority.
From the 2014-15 fiscal budget, Rs 93 crore has been allocated for the development of theme gardens in the city.
The funds allocated this year will be utilised to develop and maintain 1,052 plots under gardens, playgrounds, recreational garden and open spaces. Of these, 179 are areas in central medians and traffic islands as well as spaces below flyovers.
“The BMC-maintained parks are in a bad shape. The choice of plants, lack of proper signages and benches leave a lot to be desired. There is a policy of having private sponsors take care of gardens but given the size of the budget, there is no need for this,” said environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal, a researcher with Observer Research Foundation Mumbai.