In a city where open spaces and green pockets are a luxury enjoyed by the privileged few, a group of Mumbaikars have joined hands to implement the idea of a park designed exclusively for domestic pets and their owners.
To be inaugurated on Sunday, the Yari Road Pet Park in Andheri will be the first of its kind in Mumbai and the third in India. Other pet parks in the country are located in Hyderabad and Mysore.
"There are not enough clean or safe areas where our pets can play or relax. Having a park for them in the vicinity is also an incentive to keep our streets clean," said Meenakshi Thakur, a member of the Ashoka Road Residents' Association (ARRA).
While the residents have been thinking about having a pet park in the area for the last four years, the idea took concrete shape when Thakur made the suggestion to deputy municipal commissioner Ramesh Pawar at an Advanced Locality Management (ALM) meeting six months ago.
"Fortunately, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) swung into action and released a plot allocated for a public park in our area," said Bhaskar Rao, another ARRA member. The residents did the rest by pooling in resources and overseeing the work done by the BMC workers.
The 5,000-sqft park will also have bins for the collection of animal waste which will then be sent to nurseries and gardens in the area where it can be used as manure. "Along with inculcating civic responsibility amongst pet owners, we would also like the park to become a social space for like-minded people," said ARRA member Lajo Shahani.
Meanwhile, the members are working towards creating a database of pet owners in the locality.
Also on the agenda are monthly talks by local vets and animal experts. "We are also hoping to create more awareness by roping in NGOs working for animal welfare," said filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan, who lives in the area and is supporting the initiative.