In just two months, Rs 20 lakh of taxpayer money has gone into pleasing the egos of two political parties, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Shiv Sena, over a playground in Bhandup.
First, Member of Parliament funds were utilised in creating the playground in Bhandup (West), and now money from the coffers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is involved in the remaking of the same ground, all because the two parties cannot agree on what the recreational facility should offer the public.
A sum of at least Rs 15 lakh was used from a Shiv Sena MP’s development funds to make and beautify the playground by levelling it and constructing a compound wall on four sides. Then, after the levelling of the ground was done, the BMC ‘S’ Ward office received a proposal from an MNS Member of Legislative Assembly seeking an artificial pond within the ground.
The BMC accepted the proposal and started work accordingly, but the artificial pond for which digging was done never saw the light of day, as the Shiv Sena got wind of the development and ordered the dug-up area filled with soil again and levelled.
In all this drama, a large sum of money was wasted, as the BMC had used Rs 3 lakh on the concretised artificial pond.
An ‘S’ ward official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “The ground falls under our jurisdiction, but the work carried out there at first was done from the MP’s fund. Later, we received a proposal from an MLA to get an artificial pond made. We did start the work, but suddenly one night, when the work carried out by us was almost done, the pond was filled with soil. A loss of almost Rs 3 lakh was suffered by the corporation in all this.”
MNS MLA Shishir Shinde, who had proposed the pond, said, “I asked the BMC to make an artificial pond as the Shivaji Talao was not in a great condition for (Ganeshotsav) immersions. I had proposed this pond to avoid hurting the sentiments of the citizens in that area. I do not understand why some Sena party workers had to interrupt the construction of the pond by filling the hole dug there.”
Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai, whose MP funds were used in the making of the ground, said, “An expenditure of between Rs 15 lakh and 17 lakh was incurred in creating this ground, and when it was brought to my notice that an artificial pond was being made there, I immediately asked the BMC to stop it as the levelling and the beautification done there would be wasted altogether because of it.”
G R Vora, a member of the NGO Citizen Federation, called the waste of public money unacceptable, especially as elected representatives were involved in the incident, and said at least the civic body should have had better sense in the entire episode.
“This is completely irresponsible behaviour on the part of elected representatives,” Vora said. “They are busy pointing fingers and showing each other what they can do. And it is even more foolish on the part of the corporation to make an artificial pond on a ground that has been recently beautified, ultimately wasting public money that could have been utilised in a much better way.”