Citizens' Issues
Citizens must protest if they wish to retain control of open spaces in Mumbai
Bombay Municipal Corporation appears to believe that the open spaces in Mumbai are orphans and hence should be given away on adoption or caretaker basis
 
We have heard of adoption of orphans. On an adoption being completed the parents have the same rights as a normal parent and also effective control. Bombay Municipal Corporation appears to believe that the open spaces in Mumbai are orphans and hence should be given away on adoption or caretaker basis. This corrupt idea was mooted a few years back and since there was a public outcry its implementation was stopped. It is claimed that BMC wants public participation in the maintenance of open spaces. This ‘policy’ of depriving citizens of their rights on open spaces and creating private rights on them is again being revived with some cosmetic changes. Senior BMC officials admit that the corporation has adequate funds to maintain the open spaces, but it was mooting the ‘adoption policy’ to get citizen’s participation.  I would like to recall one earlier experience of this nature:
 
Papers obtained my me under RTI (in 2005) showed that the first agreement with Matoshri Club in March  1996 was given for 5 years for the 5 acre plot at CTS 190B. The agreement to take care of the open space allowed nothing except two boards no more than 2.5 ft. by 10 inches to be put up on the Ground. It stated that no structure of permanent nature will be put up. Subsequently on 13 December, 1996 an agreement was signed permitting a construction of 50% of the plot for Gymkhana and Swimming pool! Now it is a full scale private club. Numerous clubs have come up like this on public land which has been given away to some private interests.
 
There are a few cases of really well-meaning citizens having taken charge of open spaces and with their own funds managing them for public good. But even in these cases institutionally a major flaw is that open spaces are effectively being put in charge of private bodies, which may not have the same altruistic organisers for all time to come. Estimates show that the BMC would need less than 200 crores annually to meet the expenses of sprucing up and maintaining these open spaces. BMC with an annual budget of Rs32,000 crore has a provision of Rs200 crore for maintaining various grounds and gardens, which it is not utilising. If BMC is really keen on getting public participation it could encourage citizen’s groups to do social audit and monitoring of these grounds and also take their help in designing the facilities. The BMC’s intentions are clear when one looks at the evaluation criterion for selecting those who wish to adopt the open spaces. One of them gives preference to organisations which have turnover of Rs5 crore! The intentions are obvious. This is one more attempt to alienate citizens from their open spaces. The opposition in the Corporation has strongly opposed this new policy. Citizens must protest if they wish to retain control of these open spaces. It is obvious that there is a corrupt motive motivating this ‘policy’. Citizens should take a strong position by organising meetings and interacting with the elected representatives. We should ask them to explain their actions which are not in the interest of public. If they do not listen to our voice and continue on this nefarious path, we should vow to teach them an appropriate lesson in the next BMC election.
 
(Shailesh Gandhi served as Central Information Commissioner under the RTI Act, 2005, during 18 September 2008 to 6 July 2012. He is a graduate in Civil Engineering from IIT-Bombay. Before becoming a full time RTI activist in 2003, he sold his packaging business. In 2008, he was conferred the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Award for civil liberties.)

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COMMENTS

Silloo Marker

1 year ago

Completely agree with Shailesh Gandhi. As citizens, we have a stake in our city. Bombay (or Mumbai, if you will) is already so deprived of open spaces, we need to react strongly to any move to give any of the scarce open spaces under any policy. The caretaker policy actually made it officially possible to construct on 20% of the open space by the caretaker. This was strongly opposed (by the NGO, NAGAR, for example, very involved in the protection of open spaces) and has been thankfully suspended. For a municipal corporation as wealthy as the Bombay Municipal Corporation, there is absolutely no need to give any open space to anyone, even under the scheme of adoption. The price of keeping your open spaces open and free for all citizens is eternal vigilance. There are citizens who have managed to save whatever open space they have in their area by using the Right to Information Act to find out their current status and react fast when required. There are even some alert citizens (like the Mahiti Adhikar Manch) who are now doing social audits of the public money spent by the BMC on maintenance of open spaces given to contractors who generally pocket huge amounts and do almost nothing more about maintenance once they have the contract. Like Shailesh Gandhi, they use the RTI very effectively and help others to do the same in their own areas.

manoharlalsharma

1 year ago

Citizens must protest if they wish to retain control of open spaces in Mumbai./ who has time to do such social things? and suppose do ing some one get support at large like JAN LOKPAL what has been achieved? worthless thought.

Jyoti Dua

1 year ago

All ready very limited open spaces available in Mumbai are very critical for the environment, and public health. These should not be handed over to private sector. However, an area co-operative society supported by a corporate ( with advertising rights only) can be considered for up keep of various open spaces.

Yoga may reduce side effects of prostate cancer treatment
Practicing yoga can improve quality of life of men with prostate cancer who are undergoing radiation therapy, says a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher.
 
The researchers found that general quality of life and measurements of side effects often experienced by prostate cancer patients - including fatigue, sexual health and urinary incontinence - were stable throughout a course of outpatient radiation therapy among the men participating in an intensive yoga programme.
 
"Data have consistently shown declines in these important measures among prostate cancer patients undergoing cancer therapy without any structured fitness interventions, so the stable scores seen with our yoga programme are really good news," said Neha Vapiwala, associate professor at Abramson Cancer Centre, University of Pennsylvania in the US.
 
The possible explanation for the benefits of yoga seen in the study stems from physiologic data demonstrating its ability to help reduce cancer-related fatigue and to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow. 
 
These latter aspects may in turn improve erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, Vapiwala said.
 
Between May 2013 and June 2014, the study participants attended twice-weekly yoga classes of 75 minutes each, taught by trained Eischens yoga instructors.
 
"Eischens yoga incorporates ideas from movement theory and kinesiology and is accessible to all body types and experience levels," said Tali Mazar Ben-Josef, certified Eischens yoga instructor and researcher at Abramson Cancer Centre.
 
Most yoga participants reported a sense of well-being at the end of each class, Ben-Josef said.
 
Severity of fatigue scores demonstrated significant variability over the time of treatment. Erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and general quality of life scores demonstrated steady trends.
 
The findings were presented at the Society of Integrative Oncology's 12th International Conference in Boston.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

S A Narayan

1 year ago

Maybe if yoga was initiated even before commencement of radiation, the progress of the cancer may have stalled. Wish a study was done on this, since prostrate cancers in any case progress very slowly.

Hydrocarbon blocks' auction policy likely by fiscal-end
The new policy for auction of oil and gas blocks is likely to be finalised during the ongoing financial year, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Tuesday.
 
"We have brought this consultation paper and suggestions will come in by November 30. We will make the policy after considering all the views and take it to the Cabinet. It will be our endeavour to make the policy during this financial year only," Pradhan told
reporters here. 
 
He was speaking on the sidelines of the industry chamber CII organised Bio-Energy Summit 2015.
 
"There were suggestions on the issue from institutions like CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General). To make new bidding round more progressive, transparent
and market friendly, we have brought in this consultation paper," he added.
 
Towards easing doing business in exploration, the government on Monday proposed to free domestic natural gas pricing and replace the existing production sharing contract by the revenue-sharing model for all future acreage auctions.
 
"It is proposed to provide pricing and marketing freedom for the natural gas to be produced from the areas to be awarded under the new contractual and fiscal regime to incentivise production from these areas," the petroleum ministry said on its website.
 
The ministry has also invited comments from stakeholders on a consultation paper on new fiscal and contractual regime for award of hydrocarbon acreages.
 
"In the recently announced marginal field policy, the government has provided pricing and marketing freedom for the natural gas," it added.
 
In September, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved a landmark change in India's hydrocarbons exploration regime, sanctioning the auction of 69 small and marginal oil fields of state-owned ONGC and Oil India to private and foreign firms.
 
"For the first time, a revenue-sharing model is being approved in place of production-sharing contract," Pradhan had told reporters here.
 
Under the proposed regime companies offering the maximum revenue share or percentage of oil and gas to the government, and committing to do more work, will win the field.
 
As per current practice, the companies get blocks by bidding the maximum work programme, and recover all their investment before sharing profits with the government, which had been criticised by the CAG.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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