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MNS, SP place their bets on racecourse closure

With the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine adamant that the lease on the Mahalaxmi Racecourse should not be extended, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) have lent support to the ruling party’s decision in the house.


No extension: Both MNS and SP councillors opined that lease of RWITC should not be extended, and also stated that all grounds given on lease in the city should also be treated similarly. File Pic

After the ruling party passed a resolution calling for the development of a theme park at the sprawling plot, the opposition parties approved the decision not to extend the lease of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC).

At the BMC group leaders’ meeting yesterday, both MNS and SP councillors opined that the lease should not be extended, and also stated that all grounds given on lease in the city should also be treated similarly.

Leader of the House Yashodhar Phanse read out the proposal wherein he stated that a theme park be developed in the same place, which was approved by MNS and SP leaders.

Earlier, Mayor Sunil Prabhu wrote to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan saying that the lease of RWITC is expiring on May 31, and it should not be extended further. He also wrote to BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte asking the same.

Turf war
The civic body had allotted the prime piece of land in the heart of the city, measuring 8,55,198 sq m, on a 99-year lease to RWITC, in 1914. The lease was extended in 2000 for 14 years, which is set to expire in a fortnight. The mayor had also demanded in his letter that a garden of international standards be developed on the plot.

Prabhu said, “This lease need not be extended and the letter from the Leader of the House Yashodhar Phanse was hence passed at the group leaders’ meeting.”

SP group leader Rais Shaikh said, “A decision was taken not to extend the lease to the Turf Club, and now the municipal commissioner’s reply is awaited. In fact, why only one ground, the lease of all grounds that have been given on rent should be cancelled.”

MNS group leader Dilip Lande, said, “Our stand in this matter is very clear that if the agreement has ended, then there is no need of leasing it out again. If a good theme park can be constructed, then let’s do it.” 

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