Mumbai: BMC awaits state government’s nod on playground policy

Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to take back the 230 open spaces whose lease has expired and also not to implement the Recreational Ground (RG) and Play Ground (RG/PG ) policy, till all citizens’ concerns regarding privatisation are addressed. So far, the BMC managed to acquire maximum plots, except the 42 that are controlled by big politicians. A senior civic officer stated that as these plots are under the influence of big politicians they are struggling hard to get back the possession.

“But, BMC is of the view that these open spaces are meant for public use and should be availed by Mumbaikars only,” he further added. Meanwhile, the BMC has sent the new RG /PG policy to state for approval. The revised policy does not allow commercial activity and construction like previous policy norms. The civic officer remarked, “The new policy has been sent but if the state passes the policy by bringing certain amendments like handing over the plots to same parties then they (42 plots controllers) might get benefits, if amendments be in their favour.”

Apart from Swatantra Veer Sawarkar Udyan in Borivli west and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Kridangan in Kandivli west which are maintained by the Poisar Gymkhana-led by Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) Gopal Shetty, other known names include the St Xavier grounds in Parel that is being maintained by Mumbai District Football Association chaired by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, Matoshree club of Jogeshwari maintained by State minister Ravindra Waikar of Shiv Sena.

As per the norms the plots cannot be used for commercial purpose or used for political activities. But these 42 private parties flouted all norms and earned higher incomes through membership fees. Wherein the officer added, “ Henceforth, only for 11 months the maintenance of the said plot would be allotted to the private party, that too on a deal that no construction would be carried out and minimum entry fees as per BMC norms would be charged for visitors. On these conditions only the plots would be handed over to caretakers if they are still willing to maintain the plots.”

This comes after, the BMC noticed luxurious clubs built to attract members and to run private functions, so as to earn income through public amenities. Wherein, BMC officials are now deciding whether the amenities built on open spaces should be demolished or kept as it is. “The BMC will not demolish those structures constructed but make it available to public at nominal or free of cost,” the officer added.

The new revised policy also states that in all 24 wards a private contractor would be appointed who will look after the open spaces of the said ward. Also, the contractor would not be allowed to construct permanent cabins for his watchman but a temporary cabin so as to avoid any future encroachment by the caretaker on the allotted property like earlier.

Out of the plots taken back by the BMC  after the caretaker flouted norms are Joggers Park in Carter Road Bandra, Priyadarshani Park in Malabar hill, and Mulund Gymkhana.

The BMC will claim the  remaining RG-PG plots controlled by politicians, especially those likely to benefit the State if it passes the policy with amendments. Also, the contractor would not be allowed to construct permanent cabins for his watchman but a temporary cabin so as to avoid any future encroachment.

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