After more than a year of exchanging letters back and forth, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday said it had started legal process for acquisition of the plot allotted to the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), which runs the 226-acre Mahalaxmi Racecourse.
The civic administration said this in response to a query put forth by Shiv Sena corporator Sunil Prabhu in the standing committee on January 21, 2009. It took the civic administration 28 months to reply to the query
In his reply to the committee, additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said the BMC had issued a notice to the RWITC and asked it to handover the plot to the civic body.
The civic body has been threatening to take back the RWITC's plot as the club had breached the agreement by sub-leasing a portion of the racecourse to the BJR group to run Gallops restaurant for 10 years.
“The RWITC’s lease with the civic body expires in 2013 and it signed a contract for renting out Gallops till 2018. This is illegal and breach of agreement between the civic body and the RWITC,” Gupta said in his reply.
The BMC has sent an eviction notice to the club for “subletting” parts of the plot. Also, two premium restaurants inside the racecourse have extended their construction without seeking permission from the BMC.
A text message sent by Vivek Jain, chairman, media and marketing committee, RWITC, said: “I am not aware [of this]. [The] notice was received a year back and is being heard legally. We hope to resolve it mutually and I am confident we will.”
The BMC has also instituted an inquiry on the violations carried out by the club. “An inquiry officer from the ward has started legal action against the racecourse,” said Gupta.
Prabhu, who had raised the issue in the committee said, “The civic administration should acquire the plot as soon as possible.”
However, officials are sceptical whether the civic body is serious this time and if it would actually take measures to acquire the plot. Earlier, the BMC had issued eviction notices to the club, but delayed taking action.
Mayor Shraddha Jadhav had visited the racecourse in the past and had stated that the plot should be turned into a parking lot.