The Mumbai racing season started on Sunday after some trepidation about how demonetisation will hit the sport, where betting is done in cash. The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) though has decided to ride out the storm, and will see how the 39-day season unfolds.
Having said that, the turf club is going through its most challenging time with huge losses, and the lease renewal issue with the BMC is still pending. They actually told their members to contribute Rs 5,000 each to the club .
A developer, Pegasus, is in talks with the cash-strapped turf authorities to build two clubhouses at the race course. A report in this paper spoke about a swimming pool, tennis courts, musical fountains and cantilevered, elevated walking track being envisaged at the racecourse.
Yet, it is a fact that such a deal should engage not just the racegoer, but all Mumbaikars who have stake in the few open spaces in the city. Reports state that the project will not be shrouded in secrecy and citizens are free to find out more about the developments through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While these are early days yet, it is important for citizens and green activists to be alert and alive to the proposal. Reassurances aside, it is always prudent to use options like RTI to get the correct picture about what is proposed, so that objections can be raised at the beginning itself.
This is not a cynical view, but a sceptical and healthy one. If the developer claims there would be even more green at the SoBo lung to give Mumbaikars an enhanced open space experience, we must hold them to that.
As Pegasus, the winged horse, flies over the racecourse, let’s not clip it’s wings at the outset, but watch it’s flight path, closely.