Mumbai's Mahalaxmi Racecourse Issue: BJP's Makarand Narwekar Opposes BMC's Theme Park Plan, Urges Public Participation

Mumbai's Mahalaxmi Racecourse Issue: BJP's Makarand Narwekar Opposes BMC's Theme Park Plan, Urges Public Participation

Makarand Narwekar's opposition is significant since he is the brother of Speaker of the Maharashtra legislative assembly, Rahul Narwekar.

Rahul MUpdated: Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 09:46 PM IST
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Mahalaxmi Racecourse | File

The growing campaign against the state government and BMC's proposal to have a "theme park" in the Mahalaxmi racecourse received a big boost on Wednesday when ex-corporator Makarand Narwekar of the BJP opposed the move. He stated that the 500-odd members of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) cannot decide the fate of the racecourse, which belongs to all Mumbaikars. His opposition is significant since he is the brother of Speaker of the Maharashtra legislative assembly, Rahul Narwekar.

Makarand Narwekar wrote a letter to BMC commissioner Iqbal Chahal on Wednesday, in which he pointed out that "out of the 1,718 members of the RWITC, only 540 members voted in favor of the plan. This doesn't mean that citizens of the city are in favour of it. Citizens are equal stakeholders in governance."

In his letter, Narwekar stated that this is a rare open space that is well-maintained and utilised by the public. "School children are taught polo and horse riding here, which doesn't happen in any other city in Maharashtra. The BMC should responsibly come out and address the concerns of the public at large. There is still a question about whether this development plan is necessary. The BMC should act as an auditor of open space and not as an owner. There can't be a better use of this space other than what's happening right now," he said.

'BMC does not properly secure open spaces'

He further stressed that citizens should be taken into confidence regarding this plan. "If we look at open spaces maintained by BMC, we will find that they are not properly secured; there is encroachment on many open spaces, and they are not maintained up to the mark. Any other club interested in maintaining the space should come forward if RWITC is not interested in keeping this land," he added.

"As we understand that BMC is doing this project in the interest of people, we demand on an urgent basis that BMC must put the racecourse development in the public domain," Narwekar elaborated.

President of the city Congress and MLA Varsha Gaikwad also questioned the rights of RWITC. "The lease of RWITC expired over 10 years ago. So who has given the right to RWITC to decide the fate of the racecourse?" she asked. She opposed the state and BMC plan to construct a theme park on racecourse land. The land of the racecourse is owned by citizens of Mumbai, and citizens' views should be considered in this process. She also appealed to citizens to come together on the issue.

Citizens ready to fight BMC

Concerned citizens have formed a 10-member core committee to carry on the fight against the state government and BMC in a systematic manner. The panel consists of Dr. Nilesh Baxi, Zoru Bathena, Tanuj Bhatia, Anant Patel, Riyad Kundanmal, Major (Retd) S.K. Lamba, Viren Shah, Satyen Kapadia, Kevic Setalvad, and Nikhil Shah.

The committee met on Wednesday and resolved that the open area of the racecourse should be kept open. Dr Baxi said no theme park or amusement park should be allowed.

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