With eyes on the civic election, Shiv Sena ruled BMC finally inaugurated Dabbawala Bhavan at Bandra on Sunday, a project that was part of the party's election manifesto and was pending for years. The BMC has now allotted 286.27 sq metre land at Shirley area in Bandra for the ‘Dabbawala Bhavan’ building where the "world-famous" world-famous dabbawalas of Mumbai can rest and operate from.
The inauguration function was held in the presence of Tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar, Transport Minister Anil Parab, Deputy Mayor Suhas Wadkar, BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Western) and other dignitaries from Shiv Sena and BMC officials.
Thackeray took twitter sharing photos of the event with a message "Vachan Purti" (fulfilment of promise). Thackeray was even seen clicking a selfie with the Dabbawalas during the event. "The flawless system of distribution of lunchboxes in Mumbai by Dabbawala is known and appreciated globally. While Local trains and Best buses are the lifelines and blood vessels of Mumbai, the Dabbawalas have become blood that flows through these blood vessels and ensures that lunch boxes reach you on time. This is how Mumbai runs uninterruptedly," Thackeray said.
The Dabbawala Bhavan’ was first proposed and promised in the run-up to the 2017 BMC election by the Shiv Sena, in its manifesto, however, it was kept aside citing non-availability of land.
After making it part of its election manifesto, the proposal was first moved by Shiv Sena corporator and now Mayor Kishori Pednekar — in March 2019. Pednekar’s notice of the motion to set up a Dabbawala Bhavan in Mumbai was approved in a general body meeting by then-mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar.
“Dabbawalas have a special attachment with the financial capital. They have garnered praise and earned recognition globally for management in delivering tiffin without any glitches. Taking note of their contribution in Mumbai, there should be a dedicated Dabbewala Bhavan on the lines of ‘Varkari Bhavan’. The Bhavan will serve as accommodation for their family members visiting Mumbai for treatment or other purposes,” Pednekar had stated in the proposal she moved into the BMC's general body.
In his budget speech, 2021-22 municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal sanctioned Rs 1 crore for setting up the Dabbewala Bhavan in central Mumbai. However, later the civic body said that currently, no land is available with the Estate Department and also the Development Plan (DP) 2034 does not have any reservation marked for ‘Dabbewala Bhavan’.
Replying to Pednekar’s proposal, the civic administration has said that currently there is no land available for ‘Dabbawala Bhavan’ and the proposal will be considered after the civic body finds land and then the reservation will be made.
Kiran Gavande, one of the Dabbawalas and secretary of Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association said, " We are thankful to Mayor Pednekar Madam and Aaditya Thackeray along with all others who made this possible. The dabbawala Bhavan is now the place of our right and for our rest. All we can say is we have been working relentlessly and dedicatedly for a century and we will continue to do so."