Mumbai: On the occasion of Gudi Padwa last week, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray had addressed a rally at Shivaji Park, Dadar. Thousands of MNS workers from all over Maharashtra had gathered in support of their leader. Clearly, the attendees did not believe in letting the grass grow under their feet because it has emerged that almost 30 per cent of the turf in the park was damaged in the process of making arrangements for the event, as it was underway and in the clearing up that took place after.
Prior to the rally, heavy vehicles were brought inside the ground to unload equipment. A stage was erected in the middle of the ground. Chairs were placed for party workers. After the dismantling of the stage and seating, parts of the ground appear uneven, causing local residents to express disappointment. The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation has taken up the task of repairing the damage.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of G north ward Kiran Dighavkar said, “Some residents and local groups informed me about the situation on WhatsApp. Thereafter, we started work on the rejuvenation of the grass. We will get it rectified at the contractor’s expense and ensure that it is restored to its earlier status. Our aim is to provide a lush green lawn before this monsoon.”
“The work of growing grass was in progress. This is why we were emphasising the appointment of a contractor to maintain grass cover of the ground. Once the grass has fully grown, such an incident will not recur because grass can bear the weight” said Dighavkar.
After frequent complaints from residents about the dust pollution from Shivaji Park, the BMC has decided to appoint an agency to maintain grass cover on the ground. According to Dighavkar, a contractor will be given Rs 3 crore to maintain the ground and will maintain the underground sprinklers and water lines for three years.
Meenal Vagal, a resident of Shivaji Park, told The Free Press Journal, “No political rallies should be allowed at Shivaji Park. It is not a political place. I am not against any particular party but if a party holds a rally in Shivaji Park, their buses and vehicles are parked haphazardly on the road. Where should residents go? Sometimes, the ground is used as a cemetery. Someone has constructed a memorial. What is going on? I think the government should not allow the use of playgrounds for political purposes in Mumbai. There is so much space in the Bandra-Kurla Complex. Vehicles can be parked there. No political parties pay rents for the rallies, in fact, rent should be collected from them.”
“If such grounds are recreational spaces for children, then politics should not touch these grounds,” Vagal insisted.
Another Shivaji Park resident, Ashok Rawat, said, “The BMC doesn’t do the work that needs to be done. The main problem was dust pollution but they began growing grass. Shivaji Park is a silent zone but now, that has been forgotten by the authorities. The government has also forgotten the rule that programmes can be held for only 45 days at Shivaji Park. No political rallies should be allowed here.”