The Shiv Sena has started pressuring the state government to take back the racecourse plot.
Reaffirming its stand against the renewal of the lease agreement with the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) that expires on May 31 for the 225-acre Mahalaxmi racecourse, one of the biggest green spaces in the city, the ruling alliance of the Shiv Sena- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday proposed in the party group leaders' meeting that the civic body take over the plot and develop it into a theme park.
The racecourse, which has been run by the RWITC since 1914 when the BMC granted it the lease, is in the eye of a storm after mayor Sunil Prabhu wrote a letter to municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte 10 days ago demanding that the lease be terminated and the BMC take over the plot.
Although the proposal tabled by the Shiv Sena was not supported by the Congress-NCP, it was passed after the Sena got support from the BJP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Samajwadi Party.
Opposing the proposal, Congress raised doubts over the maintenance of the large plot.
“There are many BMC gardens that are in bad shape due to neglect of the civic administration. There needs to be a plan on how the administration can maintain the plot after it is taken over. Since majority of the plot is owned by the state government, the decision taken by the chief minister will be my party’s stand," said Dnyanraj Nikam, Congress group leader in the BMC.
Although the legislative wing of the civic body has asserted its stand, the final decision, going by the powers vested in him by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, 1888, rests with the municipal commissioner who is appointed by the state government.
While the files on the matter have been sent to the civic chief Sitaram Kunte, he is yet to decide on the issue.