August 27, 2008

Juhu Green Group Members to Protest Over Open Space

Mumbai: Members of the Juhu Gulmohar Area Societies Welfare Group have threatened to go on a hunger strike if work on the open space in their area is not stopped soon. They have been demanding that the permission granted to Ronson Foundation to become caretaker of an open space near Kaifi Azmi Park, be revoked.

The revocation is being demanded because residents allege that out of the more than 1,300 trees that existed on the land when it was handed over to the foundation, only 240 remain. The residents have been repeatedly leading silent protests, planting trees at the same spots and spray-painting walls of the ground with messages protesting the felling.

"Everyone, including chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, mayor Shubha Raul, chief secretary Johny Joseph and others whom we have approached, know there is a problem. Why can't the BMC just do something about it and give us our ground back?" said film-maker Ashoke Pandit.

The 3.5-acre open space, reserved as a playground , was given to Ronson Foundation for maintenance in 1990. But in 1998, the BMC and the foundation reached an agreement, giving the plot to the company on a caretaker basis. Permission was also granted to construct a recreation centre on 15% of the land.

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