Expecting elected representatives to keep citizens in mind during decision-making is like asking for the moon. A drama played out in the civic body on Tuesday is proof of the fact.
The ruling Sena-BJP and the opposition Congress-NCP got into a heated discussion over Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) construction work on an open plot of land. Not because citizens were being deprived of open spaces, but because of the benefits accrued to political parties. A 2007 state directive had stopped construction work on the plot. The directive stayed the civic body's caretaker policy under which plots given to private institutions can be used to construct clubs, gymkhanas, restaurants and bars.
In February, the state urban development department had ordered the civic body to lift the stop-work notice issued to MCA for construction work on a plot allotted to it in Kandivli.
The state had asked for the stay to be lifted saying the ban could not be applicable to work already in progress and with retrospective effect.
The Shiv Sena-BJP, alleged that the state was favouring MCA by asking the BMC to withdraw the stop-work notice only because NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who is president of MCA, is associated with it. Sena leader Sunil Prabhu raised the issue in the civic body. Prabhu said, "The state is favouring MCA, so the rule should be the same for others too." There were many plots allotted on caretaker basis to Shiv Sena-BJP leaders when they were ruling between 1995-1999.
Opposition leader in the BMC, Rajhans Singh, said, "Every political party in power does this. The civic body should inquire how many plots reserved for recreation grounds (RG), playgrounds (PG) and health posts were given to Sena-BJP affiliated people."
MCA is constructing on a portion of the 42,000 sqm public recreation space at Mahavir Nagar in Kandivli. This plot was earlier taken on an adoption basis and was later converted to caretaker basis, which would be a precedent for the 224 other plots given to private parties on adoption basis to maintain open spaces.
BJP corporator Ashish Shelar, who is also a member of MCA Infrastructure committee, demanded that the MCA provide a playground free of cost to all 300 cricket clubs, which are affiliated to the MCA. He also suggested that it be made mandatory for the MCA to give at least five memberships to each club.