BJP’s men control key public grounds
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BJP’s men control key public grounds

Even as party supports citizens’ demand to revise proposed open spaces policy, its politicians defend their possession of open spaces

mumbai Updated: Nov 24, 2015 01:20 IST
Open spaces,Mumbai,Open spaces policy
Shiv Sena minister Ravindra Waikar is the trustee of the Matoshree Art and Sports Club in Jogeshwari.(File photo)

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the civic body extended its support to citizens’ groups protesting against the controversial proposed open spaces policy, and demanded scrutiny of plots given under caretaker agreements, its own party MP and a senior minister in its government are against such a scrutiny.

Read more: Cornered by BJP, Shiv Sena may go soft on new open spaces policy

New open spaces policy: BMC reacts to HT report, will scrap construction rule

Of the nine plots given under caretaker agreements for a lease of 33 years, five plots are maintained by trusts run by saffron alliance politicians. Gopal Shetty, who is Mumbai north MP, is a trustee of Poisar Gymkhana in Kandivli (west) and Veer Savarkar Udyan in Borivli (west) under caretaker agreements.

BJP’s Gopal Shetty is the trustee of Poisar Gymkhana, Kandivli. (Pramod Thakur / HT photo)

“As for all citizens’ groups that have doubts about the plots being maintained, I welcome them to maintain these plots on pilot basis and see what it is like. The policy has already been in limbo for more than eight years now, and all protests are leading to further delay,” said Shetty.

Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai, who is also a minister, is the trustee of Prabodhan Kridabhavan, Goregaon. (Pramod Thakur / HT photo)

Subhash Desai, industries minister, whose trust maintains a plot in Goregaon, echoed Shetty’s statement. “There are no violations nor have we denied public entry to the ground. Instead, we are providing sports facilities to locals at a nominal fee between Rs20 and Rs50,” said Desai. His trust maintains Prabhodhan Kridangan in Goregaon.

The old caretaker policy, before it was stalled in 2007, had let many open spaces slip into the hands of private entities controlled by politicians, who, in turn, misused the properties by building gymkhanas, clubhouses, open only to members at exorbitant prices.

The Shiv Sena and BJP, which are in power at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, cleared the new policy in the civic improvements committee. They left a backdoor open for the caretaker policy; but they had to do a U-turn recently under pressure from citizens.

Gopal Shetty of the Bharatiya Janata Party is the trustee of the Veer Savarkar Udyan in Borivli. (File photo)

But, in fact, Sena’s two senior ministers, Subhash Desai and minister of state for housing, Ravindra Waikar, control such plots. Besides, BJP’s Gopal Shetty and other political heavyweights support the new policy. So far, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has also chosen to maintain silence on the policy.

Nationalist Congress Party’s Ramesh Prabhu is the trustee of the Prabodhankar Thackeray swimming pool in Vile Parle. (File photo)

First Published: Nov 24, 2015 01:20 IST