Finally, Balbhavan gets new lease of life

The much-awaited Garware Balbhavan project has at long last got the nod from PMC’s standing committee, as the civic bodyand Om Charitable trust will jointly run the operations. The area occupied by Balbhavan has been leased out for Rs 60,000 per month, and a dedicated committee will be formed for the project.

Children playing
Happy days are back: Children playing at Garware Balbhavan playground. File Pic

“In the tendering process we kept the rent of the building at Rs 44,388. During the bidding, OM Charitable Trust quoted Rs 60,000 for every month. Since this was the highest bid, the project has been sanctioned for the trust,” said Vishal Tambe, chairman of the standing committee.

“A working group will be formed for taking decisions regarding the project. Representatives of PMC and Om Charitable Trust will be members of the committee.” Tambe said. The area of Balbhavan will be provided for various programmes of the civic body. A counselling centre is also proposed on the premises.

The two-acre prime plot near Sarasbaug, on which Garware Balbhavan stands, was in the eye of a storm because of PMC’s persistent attempts to rent it out to the highest bidder and opposition over the same from various quarters. The land had been in news in the past due to proposals of constructing a memorial and a ropeway over there, but both the projects were scrapped due to public pressure.

Even Shiv Sena had sought construction of Balasaheb Thackeray Arts Gallery on the same plot, but the bid was shot down again due to opposition from citizens.

MiD DAY had highlighted the developments repeatedly, beginning with our February 19 edition (‘Please don’t take our playground’), giving voice to the pleas of hundreds of kids, their parents and eminent citizens.

Shobha Bhagwat, founder-director of Balbhavan, expressed her happiness over PMC’s decision. “We were concerned during the tendering process, as there was the possibility of a higher bid. But PMC considered the endeavours, which have been going on here for the last 27 years and rented out the ground at a nominal cost. Om Charitable Trust is planning to construct skating rings. We are happy that the activities will continue,” she said.¬†

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