The Maharashtra government has approved the civic body’s proposal to rename the Girgaum Chowpatty as Swaraj Bhoomi.
The state issued a government resolution (GR) on Tuesday, stating that the renaming will help develop patriotic values among youngsters.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had sent the proposal to the state government in October 2011, after a resolution was passed by the civic body in August that year.
The urban development department (UDD) issued the GR after getting chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ approval a few days ago.
Fadnavis had demanded the renaming of the chowpatty, as Lokmanya Tilak was cremated there in 1920, while he was the president of the state BJP unit.
In his letter sent to the then chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, Fadnavis had said, “Lokmanya Tilak’s call of ‘freedom is my birth right…’ had created momentum in the ongoing movement for freedom about a century ago. Renaming of the chowpatty will be a fitting tribute to the great freedom fighter.”
The demand was first made by the Lokmanya Tilak Smarak Samiti in 2007. It had also demanded installation of a Swaraj Stambh in honour of Tilak.
“On the lines of Rajghat and Shakti Sthal, which are maintained in the honour of Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi respectively, we have been demanding the renaming in Tilak’s honour. I met Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan in 2009 and 2010, but nothing was done. The then Mumbai mayor, Suresh Prabhu, got the proposal approved in the civic committee and it was sent to the state government,” said Prakash Silam, head of the Samiti and grandson of Laxman Silam, the first speaker of the state Assembly.
The UDD officials said the BMC will now have to carry out the other procedures. When contacted, assistant municipal commissioner Devidas Kshirsagar, D ward, said, “No decision has been taken on the matter. A meeting will be held to decide on our course of action.”
The move, however, failed to impress Mumbaiites. “Renaming famous places slowly erodes the city’s character. It [the Chowpatty] has been needlessly redefined; our city has more compelling priorities than renaming established legendary precincts,” said Atul Kumar, member of Nariman Point Churchgate Association.