BMC to foot Rs 1 lakh a month bill for Bal Thackeray's memorial torch

According to BMC officials, although the torch was set up after Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale said he would arrange to fund it, the expenses have now become the corporation’s burden

Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks turned up at Shivaji Park yesterday, to pay homage to the party’s founder, Bal Thackeray at the new memorial torch that was inaugurated in his honour there yesterday. According to sources in the BMC, however, when it came to funding the lamp, party members were less forthcoming.

Shiv Sainiks pay homage to Bal Thackeray at the newly inaugurated memorial torch at Shivaji Park, on his birth anniversary on Friday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Shiv Sainiks pay homage to Bal Thackeray at the newly inaugurated memorial torch at Shivaji Park, on his birth anniversary on Friday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

It was Shiv Sena MP, Rahul Shewale, who had announced the plan to install an ‘akhand jyot’ or eternal flame on Thackeray’s second death anniversary, suggesting that he would arrange funds for its upkeep by enlisting the help of the corporate sector. When no offers of sponsorship came forward, Shewale said he would pay for the torch from his own funds.

But, a source in the BMC said that the expenses of setting up the memorial torch and maintaining it were running into lakhs, and the entire burden had fallen on the corporation.

MP Rahul Shewale
MP Rahul Shewale had reportedly said he would arrange to fund the installation and upkeep of the torch, either through corporate funding or by himself. File pic

“It was Rahul Shewale who had mooted this idea and even had gone ahead and claimed that he will sponsor the lamp, which did not happen. Even in the plan to fund it under CSR initiatives, there were several meetings that took place, but no one came forward. Hence we now have to spend R1 lakh every month on the maintenance of the lamp,” said a source at the BMC G North ward office.

While the monthly expense is Rs 1 lakh, the 6-foot lamp was installed at a cost of R6 lakh, said an official who did not wish to be named, adding that this expense too was borne by the BMC. The eternal flame will be fuelled by a pipeline that was installed for Rs 3 lakh, and will deliver gas equivalent to about four cylinders per month.

BMCspeak
Vijay Hire, superintendent of the Garden department said, “The lamp will be maintained by the gas company, but the expenses will be paid by the G North ward office, and there is no sponsor or anything for this.”

Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Shewale was not available for comment.

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