Civic workers demolished an illegal gymnasium-cum-social welfare centre in Byculla on Thursday.
The 2,000-sq ft illegal structure was allegedly built with support of gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli on a water suction tank of a Mhada residential society at Sundar Nagar - 200 metres away from Dagdi Chawl, Gawli’s bastion.
Gawli’s daughter and corporator Geeta said: “Part of Daddy’s [Gawli’s] MLA fund was used to build the gymnasium and social welfare centre as local residents had demanded it.”
“More than 400 families of Sundar Nagar were using the gym and social welfare centre for the last three years,” said a resident of Arunodaya Niwas requesting anonymity. “The gym was built on the Mhada plot for a good cause.”
But Prakash Patil, assistant municipal commissioner, E ward, said it was built without permission.
“There was no evidence about using MLA fund for the gym construction, hence it was demolished. If it would have had built by MLA fund, the municipal corporation would not touched the structure,” he added.
On Wednesday, more than 500 people, led by local corporator and Gawli's sister-in-law Vandana Gawli, had met the assistant municipal commissioner at his Byculla office and requested him to not raze the structure.
Patil said, “She [Vandana] requested me to hold demolition for a few more days, but we had served them a notice two months ago and could not give them more time. The action was taken on a complaint.”
Geeta alleged that the local Congress MLA, Madhu Chavan, had complained about the gym and pressured the civic officials to demolish it.
“Sundar Nagar residents did not vote for him [Chavan] in the 2009 Assembly election, so in frustration he complained about the structure.”
Gawli, popularly called Daddy, is in the Arthur Road jail since September 2008 after he was convicted under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in an extortion case.
He was elected to the Assembly from Chinchpokli on his own party Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS) ticket in 2004, but lost the seat in the 2009 Assembly polls to Chavan.