11,000 sq mt victory for Parel

Citizens' protest against proposed sports complex on Nare park succeeds; BMC will now only renovate the ground

Just as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commission’s (BMC) recreation/play ground policy got shelved, news emerged of another victory of citizens in the fight for open spaces. And, this victory is 11000 sq mt big.

Last month, the civic body shelved a two-year-old proposal to build a sports complex at Parel’s Nare Park after constant and vehement opposition from the area’s residents. While a new proposal hasn’t been drawn up yet, it will involve far less construction and involve only adding a jogging track, levelling the playground and renovating an existing stage. In addition, the small garden adjoining the playground, named after Dadasaheb Phalke will be converted into a memorial park of sorts, themed after him. Tenders will be invited soon.

Nare Park
As per the original proposal, the sports complex would have had a yoga centre, swimming pool, cafeteria, basement parking and other facilities. This is the ground where locals conduct their annual Ganesh puja. Pic/Onkar Devlekar

No sports complex please
In 2013, the area’s then MLA, Bala Nandgaokar, had proposed building a sports complex on the park. The sports complex would have included a yoga centre, swimming pool, cafeteria, basement parking and other facilities. In fact, even the bhoomi pujan of the project had been done, by MNS chief Raj Thackeray. However, locals led by Shiv Sena corporator Nana Ambole opposed the plan saying it would lead to construction on the open space, which is not the need of the hour. Sena then, in fact, had said that it wanted no construction on the playground or the adjoining garden, fearing that the land would then be accessible only by paid members of the complex. Ironically, now it is the Sena-headed BMC that has mooted the recreation/play ground policy which favours the idea of constructing sports complexes on open spaces.

Also read: BMC's open spaces policy: The big Mumbai con

Tatya Nare, a local resident, said: “We have lived here for generations. Yet, we were not consulted when the earlier proposal was mooted. What use is a swimming pool to us? We would not have been able to afford the membership fees. We’d be alienated from our own ground.”

In addition to the renovation mooted in the new proposal by Ambole, the BMC has planned two ground-plus-one structures on either sides of the stage to re-house a typing institute, a pre-primary school and gymnasium. “We will be recycling the soil and levelling it. There will be a stadium-like sitting arrangement in the ground, where people will be able to sit on steps. Besides, we are inviting tenders for the adjoining small garden which will be developed on the theme of a Dadasaheb Phalke memorial. The shrubs will be replaced as per the theme while the big trees will remain,” said an official from the BMC’s garden cell. Premnanda Mungekar, another local resident, said: “This is the place our Ganpati Bappa comes every year… This should not change. We want more facilities such as toilets, benches, lights, a compound wall and security. Women should feel safe coming here.”

Collector Vs BMC
However, there seems to be confusion over who will be in charge of the renovation. Since the project was mooted by an MLA as an MLA developmental work, it falls within the ambit of the district collector and MHADA. The two agencies seem unaware of BMC's proposal. The district collector on Friday called for a meeting in the matter. However, since the land belongs to the BMC, civic officials are positive that it is their proposal that will prevail. Deputy municipal commissioner Anand Vagralkar said, “Generally, in such cases, it is the owner whose plan takes precedence. We will communicate our plans to them. Then the MC and the Collector will take the final decision.”

Tatya Nare
Of what use is a swimming pool to us? We would not have been able to afford the membership fees. We’d be alienated from our own ground – Tatya Nare

Premnanda Mungekar
This is the place our Ganpati Bappa comes every year… This should not change. We want more facilities such as toilets, benches, lights and a compound wall – Premnanda Mungekar

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