The Gandhidham Municipality has put on hold a proposal to develop food and game zones at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Park in Adipur after residents of the area protested claiming the “commercial activity would defeat purpose of the garden”, following which the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) asked the civic body to stay work on the project.
Residents of Ward 3/A and 3/B in Adipur town took objection when a private contractor placed two cargo containers in a corner of the park early this month. Gandhidham Municipality officials said that the general board of the civic body approved a proposal to divert one-fourth area of the around six-acre garden for developing a food zone and a game zone in July 2019.
In October, the executive committee of the civic body awarded a 10-year contract to one Haresh Lalvani, a private partner, to develop a food zone and an indoor and outdoor game zone in the garden by paying Rs 1.20 lakh to the municipality every year.
Alleging commercial activity, residents said the project violates the terms and conditions on which the Sindhu Resettlement Corporation (SRC) had handed the garden over to the municipality in 1997. “The SRC says that the park would be a public garden only and it cannot be used for commercial activity. If the food zone and game zone come up, the purpose the garden would be defeated as children would be attracted to eat fast food and play indoor games instead of playing in the garden. It would also become a nuisance for the residents…,” said Vinod Nankani, a resident and member of group — Ward 3/A, 3/B Owners Association — formed to fight against the proposed project.
Nankani said residents of the area were ready to take over the park’s maintenance. “When we made a representation to the municipality, civic officers told us that maintaining the park involves significant expenditure and that the PPP project would help meet it partially,” added Nankani, a supplier of industrial capital goods.
The residents also made a representation to Gandhidham SDM who asked the municipality on January 24 to not proceed with the proposed project until further instructions from his office. He also asked the chief officer to submit a report about the terms and conditions of the transfer of the park from SRC to the municipality and if due approvals have been obtained for the game zone and the food zone.
Sundeepsinh Jhala, chief officer of Gandhidham Municipality, told The Indian Express on Tuesday that the project was undertaken on public demand. “The garden is not used only by residents of 3/A and 3/B but by people of nearby villages like Shinay, Antarjal, Meghpar-Borichi, etc also. There was demand from park visitors to have food zone and a game zone and local councillors proposed it in the municipality. The project does not involve any permanent construction and the contractor would run the services from the containers only besides installing rides for outdoor games for children,” Jhala said, calling the protests “misguided”. The CO also said the municipality would submit its report to the SDM on Wednesday. “We are hopeful that we shall be able to proceed with the project,” Jhala said, adding the SDM did not have direct jurisdiction over the civic body.
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