Sums spent on open spaces are donations to BMC, say contracts

  • Sanjana Bhalerao, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jan 23, 2016 19:14 IST
Matoshree Sports Club. (File photo)

Politicians from the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who have offered to return leased plots on the condition that Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) reimburse the cost of developing the plots, will find that there is no such provision in their lease agreements. Money spent on developing these places should be treated as donations to the civic body, according to the agreements.

The lease agreements (copies of which are with HT) of Kamla Vihar Sports Club and Matoshree Sports Club, maintained by BJP MP Gopal Shetty and Sena leader Ravindra Waikar respectively, read: “The trust hereby agrees that the amount spent for development and construction of the said swimming pool and the sports complex shall be treated as donation to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay.”

Read more: BMC to file caveat for open spaces in Mumbai

Will BMC take over three key plots from Shiv Sena leaders?

After chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered the civic body to take back the 216 leased plots from various organisations, Shetty had offered to return to the BMC the land on which Kamla Vihar Sports Club stands.

Shetty said, “If BMC is taking the plot back will have to reimburse for all the development. If the BMC takes away the plot, what will I reply to people who have paid membership fees?”

Ravindra Waikar was not available for comment.

Last week, Shetty had said, “When I entered into an agreement with the BMC to develop gardens and sports complexes, the area had been completely encroached upon. I developed the area with money from my pocket.”

Read more: BMC scrutinising agreements of nine ‘misused’ open spaces

Moreover, the organisation which has an agreement with the BMC cannot sublet or hand over the possession of the land or structure to any other person or entity. But in many cases, sports complexes or clubs built on open spaces have been given on rent for marriages, parties and other commercial activities.

The nine plots that the BMC had handed over for 33 years under the old caretaker policy house restaurants, and thus violate the agreement. The private entities maintaining these nine plots also restricted access to citizens. This is one of the reasons citizen groups oppose the BMC’s open spaces policy.

The BMC has begun taking back plots from private entities and has issued 36 notices so far. But gardens maintained by trusts which have politicians in the management committee are yet to be served notices.

Opposition parties in the BMC have also demanded a review of the list of plots and their physical inspection, as many that involve powerful politicians have been omitted.

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