iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sayli Udas Mankikar , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, July 18, 2013
The state government has no proposal under consideration to reclaim the Mahalaxmi racecourse or turn it into a central park like the one in New York, according to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. This will come as a big setback for the Shiv Sena which has been pushing for reclaiming the 8.55 lakh sqm land and turning it into a public park.

Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had met Chavan with a request to quash the lease and even presented him with a plan of the park that would replace the racecourse.

Chavan made his stand clear on the issue in a written reply to legislator Kapil Patil’s query tabled in the question hour in the legislative council on Wednesday.

“We have no such proposal under our consideration. The Mumbai mayor had requested the existing space should be used for setting up a public park of international standards,” he replied to Patil.

Patil asked Chavan if the race course lease of the 225-acre land had expired and whether the government was planning to build an international theme park in its place.

He also asked him if the government had taken any action against RWITC, the lessee of the race course for running hotels illegally there.

“They were served a notice from the BMC for these illegalities,” Chavan said.

Hindustan Times had mentioned how Chavan, who has the final say in the issue, was not convinced of the motives of the Sena when it pushed the idea of setting up a grand park.

It was felt that Sena wanted to build a memorial for late party chief Bal Thackeray inside the public park — a motive it might reveal once the demand not to renew the RWITC lease was met with, sources said. In January, the state Cabinet approved a new industrial policy that allowed SEZs to exit and replace the outgoing projects with Integrated Industrial areas (IIAs). Under the IIA scheme, investors must use 60% of the land for primary production, but the remaining 40% could be used for residential or commercial or allied manufacturing purpose.