At a time when citizens are struggling to save the city’s open spaces, residents of Oshiwara have succeeded in removing illegal structures from a plot reserved for a playground.
Incidentally, the reserved plot had been allotted by Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (Mhada) to a private trust for constructing a seven-storey international school.
“It is a big victory for everyone fighting to save the open spaces in city. The playground was barricaded by tin sheets, thereby not allowing the local residents to use it,” said Sumesh Lekhi, member of Oshiwara Lokhanwala Citizens’ Association (OCLA), which had filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court on the issue. “Children will finally be able to avail of the playground that was meant for them,” he added.
On October 3, the high court directed the state government to reply to the PIL that challenged the allotment of land by MHADA to a private trust for constructing an international school.
According to the petition, in January 2002, the state had ordered Mhada to allot the plot to Janata Education Society.
“Locals had been negotiating for a playground since 1996, but in 2007, the land was leased out to the school at a throwaway price. It was the only open space for thousands of citizens in the area,” said Rakesh Coelho, trustee, Tarapore Towers.
Following a meeting with Satish Gavai, vice-president, Mhada, last week, permissions were granted to demolish the illegal structures erected on the playground.
“We organised a hearing for both the stakeholders - the citizens’ group and the school trustees. Based on the hearing, we passed an order for demolition of structures on the ground because it violated the law,” said Gavai.
Kunal Dalal, trustee, Janata Education Society, refused to comment on the matter as it was sub-judice.