The 90 open plots that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to take back from different organisations include those under the aegis of political bigwigs from the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
While 126 of the 216 plots have been taken back, BMC is yet to issue a notice to the plots that remain with the netas. The 90 plots together account for around 80 lakh square feet of open spaces in the city.
These include the St Xavier’s playground at Bhoiwada, under the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA), which has Sena youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray as the chairman.
It also includes a plot owned by Aarey Bhaskar trust, which has Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu as a trustee, a playground managed by Dahisar Sports Foundation which has Sena leader and ex-MLA Vinod Ghosalkar as the trustee.
The Poisar gymkhana, Kamla Vihar club and Veer Savarkar Udyan, which have been under the aegis of BJP MP Gopal Shetty for years now, are also a part of the list (a copy of which is with HT).
The fate of these 90 plots hangs in limbo as chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ government reverted from its stance on open spaces in July. Significantly, various citizen groups and NGOs that had taken up the spaces for maintenance returned them to the civic body.
Congress corporator Mohsin Haider, who raised the issue in the improvements committee meeting of the BMC, said the Sena and the BJP will need to answer to citizens in the coming BMC elections. “Mumbaiites have been denied open spaces by the two ruling parties. Why were only the spaces under them not taken back by BMC before the chief minister’s announcement? This is just a political play.”
Earlier in the year, BMC acted on Fadnavis’ orders to take back the plots given out under the previous controversial adoption policy. BMC started undertaking the work in phases by issuing notices to the organisations handling the plots. It also appointed 21 contractors to maintain these plots at a whopping Rs 205 crores.
In July, however, the government changed its stance stating that private entities can also maintain plots, a move that was vehemently opposed by citizens earlier. BMC, however, is yet to receive official guidelines on the same.
A senior civic official from the gardens department said that BMC is taking precautionary measures before sending a notice to these plots. “We are looking at the legalities and might also file a caveat before sending notices to these plots,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.