Development of Garden at Lotus Nagar Slum Area at Govandi Back

Location: Govandi, Mumbai
Year: 2014

 

The development of Lotus Garden at Lotus Nagar was a pilot project of MESN to understand how to enhance quality of public spaces with higher sense of ownership and belonging. The project was carried out in partnership with UN Habitat. The project was implemented in one the poorest areas with sensitive social and political background. The site is located near Deonar dumping yard. The area is a ghetto of poverty settled on the periphery of the city limits. Within the locality, an area of 1,300 sq meters was designated as garden space for a population of over 2,00000 people.

This project was taken up as an attempt to start the virtuous cycle to improve quality of public spaces and also to understand the role of community in such spaces.

The place for the past 20 years was in an extremely poor condition and was abused and misused. There was a complete apathy towards the space by the local residents as they are fighting to get their basic facilities like water and proper sanitation. The process of Place Making for Lotus Garden involved:

Identification of key stakeholders, engaging with them and building trust.

  • Mobilizing community and getting them interested in the development of the open space.
  • Developing project brief and design on the basis of needs and suggestions from the communities.
  • Getting approval from corporation for the same.
  • Encouraging Municipal Corporation and Corporators from the area to take up development work.
  • Bringing new partners like UN Habitat to support the development.
  • Working closely with community to develop a system for its operations and maintenance.

Key Project Outcomes:

  • Community engagement changed the apathy to sense of ownership which has led to better maintenance and upkeep. The garden space has become a landmark and has created a sense of identity and pride for the locality. Residents have realized the garden as an asset and now fully appreciate its value.
  • Women in the area were rarely seen using open spaces. The place making initiative brought a positive change in their lives. Women in large numbers were seen as visitors. They used the garden space for recreation, walking and gymming.
  • The success of the project has sown a hope that such initiatives are very much possible provided there is a will.