Girl’s playground: the ball’s up in the air!

Mumbai : In 2014 the Mumbra all-girls football team was promised a dedicated all-women playground in M.M Valley area of Mumbra. In 2016, it is yet to become a reality.

An official of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) said the hurdle is that the identified ground falls under the Coastal Regulatory Zone and the by-laws that govern such land. “It is not owned by the Corporation. Only when the TMC gets the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) it can do something for the girls,” the official said.

There is no other land parcel big enough for a playground in Mumbra, the official said. The land is about 800 sq m in area.

A government resolution passed in January this year, setting rules for TDR, said that Coastal Regulatory Zones will be dealt with separately, further adding to the difficulty in getting the land, the official said.

 “Using the land for the purpose of a playground will not disturb the ecology in any way since there won’t be much construction. We are not opposed to the plan, it’s a great concept,” the official said. Changing rooms and toilets are the only structures the ground will have.

NGO Parcham under whose aegis the football match on International Women’s Day was held, said that the girls had gone on a signature campaign in which 900 women had demanded a women’s only playground. It was then that the local MLA Jitendra Awhad and the then TMC Commissioner Aseem Gupta had promised to provide such a facility.

Parcham is contesting the TMC claim that giving TDR is not in the Corporation’s hands. “If that was so, how did Aseem Gupta allocate us the land? Is the TMC saying that he was not aware of the legalities involved?” asked Saba Khan of Parcham, who has been running from pillar to post to get sanction the ground.

“The TMC had agreed in-principle that they would provide a ground for women, and we are not stuck on that piece of land. They should provide us an alternative,if they cannot give us this land,” she added.

Also in the City Development Plan the area has been set aside for a Recreation Ground (RG). “The last time we spoke to TMC officials they said that they are in the process of changing its use as Play Ground (PG), now why are they bringing in the CRZ aspect? They are lying through their teeth,” Saba said.

Another TMC official, who did not wish to be quoted, said that giving TDR for the land is very much in the hands of the TMC, it being the development authority for Mumbra. The only role the Urban Development department has to play is to clarify what ratio the land owner is be paid for surrendering the land. This in contrast to what the TMC claims, that they are unable to give TDR because the land comes under the Coastal Regulatory Zone.

Adjoining proposed playground, a stadium and a pumping station have been constructed by the TMC. These too come under land that falls under CRZ. “The TMC could give TDR for these constructions, if it is not in their hands, how did they do it? What is stopping them from issuing TDR for the playground?,” questioned Saba. “Also how did the City Development plan for Mumbra designate the land as a recreational ground if the TMC has no authority over it?” she added.

A few months ago Parcham members were shocked to find a big board put up on the land saying that it has been reserved for a cemetery. “That makes the whole issue take on communal colours. Then the question will be whether the community needs a cemetery or a girl’s playground,” she said. “Something needs to be done soon before we lose the land to someone or the other,” she added.

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