BMC goof-up led to Marine Drive open-air gym controversy

The inquiry report in the Marine Drive gym controversy, which caused much embarassment to the Shiv Sena, was released on Monday and has concluded that a communication error was to be blamed for the fiasco.

ALSO READ: Day after Aaditya Thackeray inaugurates gyms, BMC tears down one 

BMC workers pulling down the other open-air gym opposite Hindu Gymkhana, in C ward
BMC workers pulling down the other open-air gym opposite Hindu Gymkhana, in C ward. Pic/Tushar Satam

Last Wednesday, two open-air gyms owned by Bollywood actor Dino Morea were inaugurated on Marine Drive one opposite Kapoor mansion, which falls in the A ward, and the other opposite Hindu Gymkhana, which falls in the C ward. Both are located on the footpath and a common inauguration was done for both the gyms at the hands of Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and actress Jacqueline Fernandes. 

Although Thackeray was present for the inauguration of the A ward facility, he has lent support to both the gyms strongly. The open-air gyms like their counterparts in Shivaji Park, Worli, Bandstand, etc — are open to all and have different kind of fitness equipment.

Barely 12 hours later the C ward office objected to the gym, stating that it is illegal and, hence, cannot be permitted on Marine Drive since it falls under the Coastal Regulatory Zone and is also a heritage structure. On Thursday morning, the equipment was dismantled and taken away in a truck.

“I was not consulted for starting the gym. I was unaware of the inauguration, and only noticed the gym on Thursday morning. As per the rules, they should have approached the ward office, after which we would have approached the higher authorities.

They have permission for setting up such equipment in A ward, and not in my ward,” said Sangeeta Hasnale, assistant commissioner (ward officer), C ward. Hasnale clearly stated that this equipment on Marine Drive neither has permission from the ward office, nor any higher authority.

While the ward officer alleged that the gym did not have her permission, the Shiv Sena maintained that they had permission for erecting gyms on any two locations on the promenade. The Sena even demanded the removal of the ward officer Sangeeta Hasnale, after which Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta ordered an inquiry.

According to the inquiry report, the gym had Mehta's permission but the same was not communicated to the ward officer, which led to the embarassment. The letter to that effect will now be sent to Hasnale.

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