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As Mumbaikars lose another open space, Shiv Sena, BJP spar over gymkhana for BMC officers

The proposal was cleared in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee meeting on Wednesdays.

mumbai Updated: Feb 15, 2018 00:59 IST
Sagar Pillai
Sagar Pillai
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,BMC officials,gymkhana
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation cleared the proposal for a gymkhana on a plot reserved for a playground.(HT File)

A plot at Mahalaxmi, originally reserved as a playground will now be used for building a gymkhana for civic officers worth Rs50 crore.

The proposal was cleared in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee meeting on Wednesday even as the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fought over the same.

While Sena wanted the plot for the gymkhana, the BJP said it should be used for the mayor’s bungalow. None of the parties demanded that it should be retained as playground for citizens. Manoj Kotak, BJP leader, said, “The plot could be used for constructing the mayor’s bungalow. The location of the plot efficiently connects the western and the eastern suburbs. We do not want a plot to be wasted by constructing a gymkhana for BMC officials.”

The proposal received a strong opposition from the BJP and Samajwadi Party leader Rais Shaikh. The administration in its reply stated that the reservation changes have been done. Sanjay Mukherjee, additional municipal commissioner, said, “The plot is reserved for a gymkhana or a club in the development plan 2034 and all the legal formalities for the reservation have been completed.” Abhijeet Samant, BJP Corporator, argued, “The administration should first improve the basic civic services which are currently in a sorry state. They are facilitating their officials by constructing a gymkhana but are doing nothing to improve its services.”

According to the proposed plan, the gymkhana will have a swimming pool, play rooms, gymnasium, lawn tennis court, and badminton and squash courts. It will also have a conference hall and a guest house. The cost of the project is Rs50 crore. The tenders for the project were invited and a contractor has been selected for the work. The plot was originally reserved for a playground but the reservation was changed to a club or gymkhana in development plan 2034. Santosh Pandey, citizen activist, said, “The BMC has still not been able to reclaim some of the 227 open spaces in the city that were encroached by political bigwigs and private entities. Several BMC officers already hold membership in some high-end gymkhanas of the city. Also, they have a play area just opposite the headquarters. This proposed gymkhana is a complete waste of the taxpayer’s money.”

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 00:57 IST