Ten municipal corporators spent four days in three cities in Kerala last month, on a tour to learn to improve Mumbai's gardens.
The corporators, all members of the markets and gardens committee visited a small garden managed by the Kochi municipal corporation. Named after national hero Subhashchandra Bose, it was the only civic amenity that was on the list.
In Munnar and Periyar, they spent time at tea and coffee estates and even inspected some medicinal trees. The trip cost the civic body about Rs5 lakh. But it's not clear what benefit the corporators have brought back for Mumbai.
"It is not clear what the corporators wanted to study on their visit to the Cochin Municipal Corporation. These members of the markets and gardens committee was expected to visit some recreational spaces that may help add value to the city's gardens, but the garden they went to was like any other in Mumbai," said an official of the civic body who requested anonymity.
The fact is that the Kochi civic body has a limited range of services, a lot less than the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
"In Kochi the civic body has just four departments – town planning, health, revenue, tree authority and horticulture – whereas the BMC has 27-odd departments. Besides, the Kochi gardens' budget is just Rs90 crore as compared with Rs287 crore in Mumbai," the source said.
The expenses for the trip could have escalated had a few more members joined the group. The markets and gardens committee has a total 36 members.
Sabreddy Mallesh Bora, head of the committee, could not be reached for an explanation. Civic activists are disappointed over the waste of precious civic resources.
"I have been to Kochi but I did not find any garden worth remembering. Had the corporators gone to the Garden City of Bangalore, or visited the Brindavan Gardens in Mysore, one would not have any objections. That aside, Kochi has little other infrastructure worth inspecting," said Rajkumar Sharma, who heads a citizens' group in Chembur.
Sharma said that such trips were decided arbitrarily and the public representatives should be made accountable to the voters for their actions. "We haven't elected them to take arbitrary decisions. If corporators feel that such tours will help citizens, they must explain to us what they have learned from the trip," he said.
10 members of the BMC's markets and gardens committee spent four days in Kerala to learn how to improve Mumbai's gardens
During their trip, they visited just one garden in Kochi. They also went to tea and coffee estates in Munnar and Periyar
Questions are being asked as to how the trip, which cost the civic body Rs5 lakh, will help Mumbai