Despite disapproval from the Opposition and activists, the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine passed an interim open spaces policy, which will hand over 226 plots to organisations or NGOs for maintenance for the next 11 months. The policy was approved in a group leaders’ meeting on Tuesday.
The main objection to the policy was pertaining to more than 90 plots, including gymkhanas and clubs, majority of which are controlled and maintained by Sena and BJP leaders. This policy will be in effect for 11 months or till the final arrangement is approved, whichever is first.
Sources claimed it is unlikely that any new policy will come into effect before the 2017 civic poll.
The Opposition, including Congress, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Samajwadi Party (SP), objected to the policy calling it a ploy to hand over these 90 plots to politicos and demanded they be taken back and maintained by BMC-appointed contractors. But the demands fell on deaf ears and the policy was approved. “Why is the BMC interested in handing over the plots to same organisations? It is nothing but to save politicians, who earlier came under the scanner,” said Sandeep Deshpande, MNS group leader.
Anticipating flak for approving the open spaces policy, the BJP did a U-turn. BJP group leader Manoj Kotak, who stayed away from the meeting, said that his party did not support the policy. The three BJP corporators who attended the meeting, including improvement committee chairman Prakash Gangadhare and BEST committee chairman Mohan Mithbavkar, said the support to the policy was their personal stand and not the party’s line. The BJP had similarly changed its stance twice in the past.
“The party leaders should have had better communication. The policy was cleared with BJP’s support,” said Trushna Vishwasrao, Shiv Sena group leader . Currently, 126 plots have been taken back in various phases and over 90 still remain in the hands of the earlier trusts and NGOs run by politicians. The Congress and NGOs will meet on Wednesday demanding plots to be taken back.