Chandigarh civic body set to privatise park upkeep

The maintenance of neighborhood parks in Chandigarh is set to become in the hands of the private sector.

On Friday, an agenda for the privatization of neighborhood park maintenance in Chandigarh was tabled during the House of Representatives meeting of the Civic Authority. Although council members are pushing party boundaries and arguing that the Social Welfare Associations (RWAs) were doing a good job of maintaining the parks at low prices — Commissioner Anindita Mitra and Chief Engineer N. P. Sharma made an argument for privatization, at one point arguing that RWAs could apply for Garden Tender.

Finally, the commissioner has decided to award Single Sector Parks to a private actor on a trial basis as of now.

As per the details, the amount of maintenance to be provided on the basis of work, will be Rs 4,93,946 per acre of the park.

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There are 1,800 live parks in the city, spanning 1,916 acres. If the civic body plans to give about 1,900 acres for maintenance to private players in the future, the total amount of the project would come to nearly
93,84,97,400 Rs.

As per the details, RWAs 4.15/m2 are being paid per month at present for the maintenance of these neighborhood parks. However, once privatized, the civil authority plans to pay Rs 10.17/m2 per month, thus more than double paying for the same job.

During Friday’s meeting, officials informed that the parks, other than those maintained by RWA, cannot be managed by the civic body, due to a shortage of manpower.

Subsequently, an agenda for maintenance privatization was presented.

Council members object to this move

However, council members across party lines objected to the move saying that some RWAs were doing a good job of maintaining the parks.

Then the commissioner, Anindita Mitra, specified that they would give neighborhood parks to private players not run by RWAs. She also said that in the event that the RWAs do not function properly, the civil body reserves the right to cancel the contract because “government funds are given to the RWAs”. It stated that the audit of funds given to RWAs has also not taken place.

The Commissioner then explained to the Board that even RWAs would be free to participate in tenders for park maintenance, which are not with RWAs.

However, Congressman Gorbaks Rawat stated that RWAs have no work experience. “As it has been said that RWAs can participate as well, I want to make it clear that they don’t have that kind of job experience and request that they are then exempted from certain terms and conditions that will be placed on other professionals companies.”
Rawat also mentioned that since some city dwellers welfare associations are doing a really good job, they may be given first preference when handing park maintenance over to private players.

BJP council member Kanarjit Rana asked if officials could explain the financial implications of this operation.
Then Chief Engineer NP Sharma explained the rates to be offered and comparison with what has been given to RWA and what will be offered on the basis of job function.

Officials reported that many of the gardeners they hired have also retired, making it difficult for the civic body to tend to the gardens.

There are a total of 1,800 live parks in different sectors of Chandigarh, of which 713 parks are maintained by RWAs who have signed MOUs with the municipal horticultural pavilion at the rate of Rs 4.15/m2 per month.

There are a total of 100 large gardens maintained at the departmental level.

But during an inspection visit by a higher office, we noticed that most of the parks are not maintained due to aesthetic values, landscaping work and daily maintenance. So a proposal has been proposed as a policy to develop and maintain neighborhood parks and green belts in various sectors of Chandigarh on the basis of functional work”, stated in the agenda.

Opposed to a proposal to limit the number of parks granted to RWAs

Across party lines, council members also disagreed with the point of limiting the number of neighborhood parks that could be awarded to RWAs for maintenance.

Another agenda in this regard was brought up for discussion as it was said that “at present there is no limit to the number of parks that can be allocated to an RWA for maintenance. As a result, upkeep and upkeep have not been up to the mark”. It is proposed to limit the allocation of gardens to one RWA area with a maximum of 3 gardens for maintenance and maintenance.
Congressman Gorbaks Rawat stated that there should be absolutely no limit because there are some RWAs who do a very good job of maintaining parks.

Council members also decided together that it should be at the discretion or recommendation of the Chancellor in each district who decide what parks may be awarded to any RWA, and if one district has multiple RWAs and there should be no absolute limit on the number of parks allotted.

Then Commissioner Mitra stated that it then meant that they were rejecting the agenda. However, council members stated that they “only agree to the agenda with an amendment”.

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