Civic sources said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now contemplating a please-all solution of renewing RWITC’s lease but also developing a significant part of the plot as an open space for the city.
According to senior civic officials, the BMC is currently exploring ways to develop a park or a garden on a part of the plot, while the rest continues to be used as a racecourse by the turf club.
According to some estimates, only around 90 acres of the total 211 acres that the park is spread across are utilised by the RWITC for racing activities. The rest of the land, sources said, can be developed and used for the public.
A senior civic official said, “All this while, we had practically surrendered the plot to the Turf Club. Now that we have the chance to get something in return for the city, we shouldn’t let it go.”
The BMC is also considering ways to more the place more inclusive. “For instance, there has been a long-pending request from people to have an entrance from the Mahalaxmi station side as well. We can insist that the turf club does that,” said another civic official dealing with the issue.
Another school of thought is that such a plan would stymie the Shiv Sena’s demand for a garden, and force it to eat crow. “The Sena’s demand has been to develop a public park.
If the BMC can do this on its own, then we don’t need to take the plot back from the racecourse or give in to the Sena’s demands,” the official said.
Activists have been demanding more access to the 211-acre plot, especially since it has been reserved in the city’s development plan as a recreational ground.