P-North ward comprising Malad East and West has as many as 200 open spaces but rapid urbanisation and encroachments by a fast growing population have left hardly any space to breathe.
The nine corporators who represent the ward have spent over 70 per cent of the Rs 40 lakh each they received as committee fund but none has bothered to create open spaces or maintain the existing ones.
The latest census figures suggest 7.6 per cent of Mumbaikars live in Malad. They complained fast-growing slums,malls and call centres had made their life difficult.
Locals and advanced locality management (ALM) members said of the 200 open spaces reserved in the development plan,only 21 had been acquired. They said open spaces had shrunk due to uncontrolled encroachment and blamed the civic staff for the illegal growth.
BMC officials said they were helpless as the encroachments came up soon after removal.
Mark Pinto,who has been residing at Pushpa Park for the past 15 years,complained gardens and open spaces were in a poor state. Roads and footpaths are also in a very poor condition. With human population,the number of vehicles is also increasing, he said,demanding development of infrastructure.
Ramchandra Barot,corporator of Pushpa Park in Malad (East),said since people did not know reserved plots they continued to encroach.
The owner usually constructs a commercial complex and rents it out. But since nobody knows the plot was reserved for a garden,encroachments continue. I have used my corporator fund to construct three playgrounds and three gardens. I also removed encroachment on a BEST plot and made a bus depot, he claimed.
Increase in crime is also a major worry. With rapid growth in slums,robberies and other crimes have shown a rise, said Savita Dhule,a member of the ward ALM.
Nearly 65 per cent of the P-North population stays in slums,well above the average 54 per cent in Mumbai.
Gordon Thomas (67),who has lived in the ward for over 60 years,remembers Marve as a beautiful and clean waterfront where he could see waves hitting the rocks from a distance during high tides. He complained slums near the coast had blocked this view.
Residents also said unchecked population growth was straining civic infrastructure in the ward.
Civic amenities such as water are not the priority of corporators. Population in the ward has increased due to unchecked growth of slums in Kurar and Malvani. This has resulted in a dip in the quality of life and has also increased crime, said Shalini Gupta of Mahindra Nagar.
Figures reveal corporators have used a majority of funds on roads,drains,sewage lines,maintenance of civic properties,pavements and beautification. While a corporator claimed to have spent most of his committee fund on developing infrastructure and restoring open spaces,another allegedly used the money to remove encroachments and build footpaths.
Corporator Parminder Singh Bhamra said he spent over 90 per cent of his allocated money on construction of footpaths and maintenance of roads. We have been working to solve the problems of residents, he said.