It might not be very difficult for the Shiv Sena to get permissions for a Bal Thackeray memorial because the site where they want to build it belongs to the Sena-run municipal corporation.
According to maps available with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the plot on which Thackeray was cremated and where a makeshift memorial has already been built is a recreation ground plot, which has not been leased out and still in the BMC’s possession. The plot lies between the Shivaji Maharaj statue and municipal sports club cricket pitch at Shivaji Park.
“Since the space is not given to any entity on vacant land tenancy basis, it remains under the discretion of state and civic authorities to sanction any construction,” said a senior civic official.
The iconic Shivaji Park ground, which houses several constructions such as statues of Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji, Thackeray’s wife – late Meenatai Thackeray - and even a Ganesh temple, has been divided into 37 sub plots which were leased out to different organisations, including schools by the civic body way in the 1960s.
The ground, which was marked for recreational purposes in the 1991 development plan, has several cricket pitches leased out to different sports clubs.
The BMC’s current open spaces policy allows construction on 25% of a plot that is marked as a recreation ground in the city’s development plan, under which the memorial might be allowed.
Sena will need to make a formal request to the government, in this case Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who heads the urban development (UD) department, which will give the final nod to the BMC.
The UD department will need to take the opinion of the advocate general (AG) because of pending litigations.
“The only issue that will arise will be political and how the CM will handle it considering that this might lay a precedent for other political parties to push their demand for memorials on public spaces,” a senior government official said.