Even as political parties struggle to get their mayor in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the administration of the richest civic body in the country is confronted with another question – where to house the mayor who may be elected on March 9?
The sea-facing Shivaji Park bungalow, which has been home to Mumbai’s mayors for the past five decades, will be converted into a memorial for the late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. The general body of the corporators on Monday approved the proposal to hand over the bungalow on lease to a trust constituted by the state government for the task at a nominal annual rate of Re1 for the next 30 years.
While the existing provision does not allow the BMC cannot sell, lease or transfer any plot at less than the market value, the rule had to be tweaked after the state passed an ordinance on the memorial, which was approved by the general body.
The civic administration is yet to renovate a bungalow in Byculla zoo, which is said to be the new official residence of Mumbai’s first citizen. According to sources, the proposal of shifting the residence to Byculla still remains on paper.
According to the sources, the mayor may be asked to live in the bungalow at Shivaji Park for the initial few months, and may be shifted to the bungalow in Byculla zoo after it is renovated.
A senior civic officer said, “The term of the existing mayor will end on March 8. He will be given a month to move out of the home. The trust and the civic body are yet to sign an agreement on the memorial. Until then, we can easily move the new mayor to the Shivaji Park bungalow, as it would still be the BMC’s property. But given it is a personal or political choice, it is also possible that the new mayor may directly be moved to the new official residence.”
The grade-II heritage structure at Shivaji Park in Dadar was used by the royal family of Bikaner in the late 1920s and was taken over by the civic body a decade later. It was initially used as a municipal office before it became the mayor’s official residence in 1962. The bungalow in Byculla zoo premises, currently vacant, is also a heritage structure.