Mumbai: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) plans to take over Minister of State, Housing Ravindra Waikar’s controversial Aarey gym for the proposed Metro Bhawan construction. Moreover, the authority plans to construct a new gym nearby which can be used by everyone along with their own MMRDA officials. A senior MMRDA official confirmed and stated that Waikar has given a consent to take over the gym, however, a detailed presentation about the new plan will be made before him in the next few days.
Apart from Waikar’s gym, a part of the Christian burial ground and a bungalow in the adjoining area may also get affected. The existing ground-plus-one structure of the gym was constructed by Waikar with his Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) funds. Former Member of Parliament of Congress Sanjay Nirupam lambasted Waikar for misusing his powers and dragged him to Lokayukta accusing him of carrying out illegalities and using the gym and adjoining plot commercially in the year 2016.
The gym was constructed in June 2015 and was active for a year, but after it mired in controversy, the gym was shut for the last one year for public use, locals told The Free Press Journal reporter while on her visit to the area. Waikar did not respond to FPJ even after repeated calls and messages.
MMRDA which is a nodal agency of Metro projects in the city will be constructing a Metro Bhawan on an Aarey plot measuring 8,000 square metres. The Metro Bhawan will be the headquarters and it will look after the 200-kilometres metro network built by the MMRDA. The authority expects the two Dahisar- Andheri metro lines will be ready by 2019 and therefore they believe the headquarter will help them to keep a watch on the newly built transport network which will be soon open for public use.
Another senior MMRDA official stated, “The land demarcation for Metro Bhawan has already been completed. But some additional land will be acquired in which Minister Waikar’s gym is also involved. We are hoping to call tenders by the end of this month for the construction of Metro Bhawan.” The 32-storeyed proposed Metro Bhawan will be constructed on Floor Space Index (FSI) of four and will serve as an operation and control centre. The building will also have commercial spaces that would be leased out. The proposed area for Metro Bhawan is just 100-metres away from the Western Express Highway (WEH) where already a number of commercial establishments are located.