An open spaces plot in Bandra (West), meant to be developed as a recreational ground but kept locked for close to two decades by Kamla Raheja foundation, is in the eye of a storm after corporator Asif Zakaria on Tuesday broke the lock and entered the plot.
Zakaria, who was accompanied by officials from the H-west ward, said he wanted the plot to be made accessible to children. “There is absolutely no space for children to play in a space-starved suburb like Bandra (West). How can a private body be allowed to keep an open space for 20 years without developing it,” Zakaria asked.
He has demanded that the allotment be cancelled and the plot be taken back from the Kamla Raheja foundation, which was allotted the plot in 1994 for its beautification and maintenance but has kept it locked.
By Tuesday evening, the foundation had locked the plot again.
As per documents available with HT, the plot was allotted to the foundation in July 1994 without any timeframe for its return. The allotment letter instructs the foundation to “renovate, beautify and maintain” the plot.
Gopal Raheja from the foundation admitted that the plot was locked up and was yet to be beautified. “The letter asked us to beautify the plot, but the BMC instructed us later not to beautify it as it is needed annually for Durga puja festivities. That’s why we did not beautify it,” Raheja said.
Raheja opposed Zakaria’s demand. “The plot need not be taken back. If there are clear instructions given to us, we can beautify it,” he said.
An official from the H west ward said they were looking into the issue. “We are looking at whether the foundation has violated the conditions. We will accordingly take action.”
This is not the first time that the foundation has been in trouble. Two years ago, locals had protested after the foundation hiked the entry fees to Raosaheb Patwardhan garden.