In a move bound to spark a row, mayor Sunil Prabhu on Friday demanded that the BMC take back the 225 acres that hold the Mahalaxmi racecourse when the 99-year lease expires on May 31.
While the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), which holds the lease, has requested chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to extend the lease for another 30 years, Prabhu has asked municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte to close the racecourse.
“The civic body should plan a garden there. The common man needs access to it,” he said.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been issuing notices to the RWITC for violations including sub-letting land without permission, operating restaurants without consent, inadequate fire-fighting mechanisms and construction of illegal water bodies.
BMC officials said Kunte had written to the state listing the violations and asking for directions on the lease.
However, the RWITC claimed it had never restricted access to anyone.
“There may have been some so-called violations, but we rectified the same,” said Khushroo Dhunjibhoy, chairman of the RWITC. “Why just a garden, we can have a host of other activities too.”