Formula One star Lewis Hamilton will not be burning rubber on Queen’s Necklace in south Mumbai this Sunday. Following strong opposition from Marine Drive residents, the venue of Vodafone Speedfest featuring the sports star has shifted to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
Ashok Wankhede, assistant metropolitan commissioner, confirmed that the organisers have booked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground at BKC, for which they have also paid the required fee.
“For using roads, the organisers will need permission from the traffic department and other police authorities. MMRDA has no role in it,” said Wankhede.
However, the event at BKC is yet to get a nod from the traffic department.
“We have received the application. The matter is under consideration and we are processing the file,” said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic). He refused to share more details on the matter saying work on the proposal is in progress.
Suresh Rangarajan, head of public relations at Vodafone India Limited said the authorities are following due process.
“Each authority works as per the procedure, and the traffic department is doing the same. I am sure we will get the necessary permission, and if they suggest any modifications, we will follow them,” he said.
The promotional event was planned at Marine Drive, but slipped into controversy after the residents wrote a letter to the state chief secretary and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) opposing it. The civic officials had asked the company, which is promoting the event, to get an approval from the residents of the area.
Rangarajan acknowledged that talks with residents did not go according to plan, but said that they were always ready with the BKC option.
Ashok Rao, chairman, Federation of Churchgate Residents, said: “We had raised the issue of Marine Drive being a heritage precinct and about the speed limit, which we want to be strictly implemented in the area, in our letter. In addition, it was a promotional event and nobody except the company would have benefited from it.”