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Is NMMC taking people for a ride over kids' park?

 pleasure ground being developed by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) in Nerul has been on a roller coaster for the past three years.

What initially promised to be a recreation centre for kids and those young at heart has assumed the form of a moneymaking enterprise.

Amusement park
Talking in circles: The money collected from visitors will be kept by a private firm responsible for upkeep of the amusement park

What’s more, when construction of the amusement park commenced in 2009, cost of the project was estimated to be Rs 18.5 crore. The figure has now escalated to Rs 39 crore in the name of additional safety and beautification equipment.

A visit to the park, which is likely to open its doors to public in the next few months, will be a costly affair for the common man as NMMC has proposed exorbitant rates. The corporation intends to charge an entrance fee of Rs 75 for every adult and Rs 50 for kids (below 12 years of age) for a single visit to the centre. Then, visitors will also have to pay Rs 50 for each of the ultra-modern rides. This means a family of four will have to shell out about Rs 1,000 during a trip to the park.

Though the NMMC used has taxpayers’ money for building the centre, all the cash collected from pleasure seekers will be pocketed by a private company in the name of maintenance of the park .

The Opposition has alleged foul play, claiming the administration has decided to charge hefty rates to benefit the firm.

Dasharath Bhagat, corporator and president of Navi Mumbai District Congress, said, “Like the sweeping machine project (‘2 firms to be paid Rs 2,800/km to operate sweeping machines’, Oct 3, MiD DAY) in which generous amounts were doled out to the private companies, the children’s park will be used by the administration and the ruling party to aid this firm.”

When contacted, Dr Bhaskar Wankhede, municipal commissioner of NMMC, said “The entry fee was decided in accordance with the expenditure to be incurred for upkeep of the high-tech rides and equipment. However, we now aim to trim the charges by 30-60%.”

Ajay Sankhe, executive engineer of NMMC, who is in-charge of the project, refused to reveal anything. “I can not speak about the venture until our city engineer permits me to do so,” he told MiD DAY.

Several attempts to reach Mohan Dagaonkar, city engineer of NMMC, proved futile.  

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