The Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj ground in M-East ward, established for local children to engage in sports, is under scrutiny for purported commercial misuse. At the forefront of the campaign against the alleged violations is Fayaz Alam Sheikh, a member of the Govandi Citizen Welfare group, besides other residents. Built with funds from the MLA’s office, the recreational area is reported to be frequently used for commercial purposes such as cricket and football; this deviates from its intended role as a community-centric sports ground.
Late-night activities and violations
The residents of Mankhurd Link Road in Shivajinagar have raised objections to the turf being accessible until the late hours, with activities extending beyond the permissible time restrictions. Complaints include the conversion of the ground into a commercial space, a breach of the stipulated guidelines set by the BMC’s garden and tree department.
Furthermore, unauthorised tree cutting has also been reported at the ground, a move that lacks the necessary clearance from the department concerned. The ground was initially sanctioned exclusively for training, but it has allegedly transformed into a commercial venture, offering hourly rentals for a fee of Rs1,200, thereby limiting access to local children.
Warnings issued, action still awaited
The Niyaz Ahmed Minorities Educational and Welfare Trust, entrusted with the maintenance of the turf, received a cautionary notice on January 11, 2024, from the assistant superintendent of gardens, Kishor Gandhi, who has directed a re-inspection of the turf site. However, the awaited report from garden officials has yet to materialise. Deputy municipal commissioner (M-East) Harshad Kale admitted awareness of the violations and confirmed that warnings had been issued. However, he cited a shortage of manpower as a limiting factor.
Despite the BMC’s acknowledgment of violations and the turf’s temporary permission granted from June 2023 to March 2024, tangible action appears confined to paperwork. This discrepancy has raised concerns among the public, who question the authenticity of such recreation areas.