Removal of ‘VIP benches’ now may damage Five Gardens’ costly turf

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 29 April 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: In clear violation of heritage laws, six park benches which are not in accordance with the heritage committee recommendations, were installed earlier this month at the D garden of the 90-year-old Five Gardens in Dadar.

This was done as per the wish of local councillor Nayana Sheth, alleged local municipal officials. They added that since the purchase was made from the corporator's fund, the wish could not be turned down. Sheth, however, denied any role in the shift in the benches' installation. "The contractor must have got confused as the two gardens are close to each other. There is nothing more," Sheth said.

The mix-up may prove costly. The benches have been installed into an astro turf and their removal may damage the expensive turf, said the Five Gardens' contractor.

The heritage violation came to light when activist Nikhil Desai filed a query under the Right to Information Act, asking for the details of the benches installed in the gardens of F-North ward. The reply noted that the BMC had paid a contractor Rs 3 lakh to install six benches in Palamkot Garden. But at the site, he noticed, there was none.

"At the BMC ward office, I was told that the benches meant for Palamkot Garden had been installed in the children's garden of Five Gardens. This is not in accordance with the plans approved for the latter by the city's heritage committee," said Desai.

The biggest open space in south-central Mumbai, Five Gardens is currently getting a makeover of its own from the BMC at a cost of Rs 5 crore. The civic body is expected to install 45 benches (each costing Rs 37,695) that complement the grade III heritage precinct. They were ordered in 2013, reportedly from the same supplier who later provided the park benches for Palamkot Garden.

After TOI spoke to several officials in the BMC's garden cell, benches meant for Five Gardens were seen being installed in Palamkot. "This is clearly a violation of the civic body's tender conditions. You cannot pick stuff meant for one garden and install it in another. More so, when there is a price difference," said Desai.

Additional municipal commissioner S V R Srinivas said he was unaware about the issue and will seek a report from the garden cell, which is implementing the project.

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