Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday said Mumbai's nightlife is a "different world altogether" and is also the need of the hour for the metropolis which is home to a large number of youths and people from different strata of the society.
Mumbai's nightlife policy, said to be the brainchild of Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray of the Shiv Sena, came into force early last year, offering an opportunity to people to shop, dine and explore round-the-clock a city that never sleeps.
Under the policy, malls, multiplexes and shops in Mumbai were allowed to function day and night. Pawar was speaking on the occasion of inauguration of "heritage walk" of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters in south Mumbai.
The initiative involves a guided tour of the iconic British-era building. The event was inaugurated by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in presence of other dignitaries at the general body meeting hall of the heritage building. "Along with Mumbaikars, not only people from other states, but also foreign nationals will visit to see the municipal building of this leading city of India. After seeing it, both they and us will feel proud," the chief minister said.
"Mumbai's nightlife is a different world altogether," Pawar said, adding the nightlife policy is being given importance since people, especially youths, like this concept very much.
Some people might comment against it, but it is a necessity for Mumbai, where people of different groups, castes and religions reside, Pawar said.
Pawar suggested cleaning the city starting from south Mumbai by removing illegal structures on roads and footpaths "step by step". Notably, during his address Pawar described Aaditya Thackeray as "our child", while taunting, in a lighter note, municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal for not inviting him to see the grand building from inside earlier.
"I have been in the Vidhan Bhavan since 1990 and Balasaheb Thorat (Congress leader and minister) since 1985, but we did not get a chance to visit the BMC headquarters. I got this chance because of our child (Aaditya Thackeray)," Pawar said.
The heritage walk is a joint initiative of the BMC and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). Under the initiative, aimed at promoting tourism, curated heritage walks will be organised on weekends. The BMC has tied up with an online portal for bookings for guided tours of the building.
Addressing the function, Aaditya Thackeray said the heritage walk inauguration was "fulfillment of a dream" moment for him. He said his department is also planning guided tours of the Wankhede Stadium in South Mumbai, the Bombay High Court and the Gateway of India.
Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said for the first time he got an opportunity to see the BMC headquarters from inside. Without naming Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, who had compared Mumbai with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Thorat said even those who call the metropolis PoK, can live happily here.
The Congress minister criticised the Union government over its alleged plan to shift key financial institutions to adjoining Gujarat. "The world knows the loot of Surat. An attempt is being made to loot Mumbai as well, but we won't allow this to happen," Thorat said.
The revenue minister took a dig at opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP, who had expressed concern about the Mumbai Metro 3 line delay, after a ride in Delhi Metro. He said that Delhi Metro was built during the tenure of the Congress and if he (Fadnavis) didn't put any obstacles and co-operated, he can catch a flight to Nagpur, his hometown, after traveling to the airport by metro.
According to Chahal, Mumbai is the first municipal corporation in India to organise such heritage walks. He said the heritage walk initiative will boost cruise tourism and also give Mumbai an identity as a tourism city.