A bird’s eye view of the park
A bird’s eye view of the park

The Priyadarshini Park issue is on slow simmer with the High Court hearing a notice yesterday, slammed by the BMC on the Nepean Sea Road Garden, for a number of violations. Susie Shah, general secretary Priyadarshini Park stated that the High Court, “asked the BMC to withdraw the notice that they had sent to us.”

An athletics meet at the Priyadarshini Park
An athletics meet at the Priyadarshini Park

The BMC though punctured Shah’s triumphant note saying, “We have been asked by the High Court to file a detailed show cause notice, citing all violations, which we shall do so very shortly. It is convenient to say we have been asked to withdraw our notice, but let me add that we have been told to send a fresh, detailed notice. We cannot have two notices, so when we file the detailed showcause notice, it is natural that we shall withdraw the current one.”

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Susie Shah, general secretary, Priyadarshini Park
Susie Shah, general secretary, Priyadarshini Park

Shah stood her ground that there have been no violations by Priyadarshini Park. She stated “If we have done anything wrong, the BMC needs to substantiate those charges. All permissions have been sought. Our front office is a tin shed, which is environmental friendly. We do not have any shop on the premises. We have a small stall selling tea/coffee and cold drinks.”

Shah added that they do charge for sports facilities usage. “We charge for instance, for tennis matches. We have to take payment for maintenance, so we charge per hour. We also charge R10,000 to schools to use the ground for their annual sports day. This is very reasonable and in fact, is for usage of all facilities. It is the civic authorities that charge schools over and above that. We are a registered trust with the Charitable Commissioner and we file all our returns.”

Shah claims that BMC’s statements that they have constructed a synthetic running track without permission are laughable. “It has been constructed out of Govt. funds so all permissions have been sought and the track has been in existence for 28 years.” Shah added that the Park does not come under the Adoption Policy but is on Leave & License. “We have the support of the entire community, Nepean Sea Road, Malabar Hill...” ended Shah triumphantly.

K Kshirsagar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Gardens & Security though, pooh poohed those claims. “Today, anybody can say they have this support and that support. It is not my job to comment on what support they have. Yet, does being on Leave & License mean that you can get away with a number of violations? In fact, they were not granted a stay by the High Court, the petition was dismissed and we are soon going to file a detailed show cause notice.
I am drawing that up with the Superintendent of Gardens and three or four other officers. We have already taken over more than 140 plots/gardens in the city,” he ended saying that things went in BMC’s favour yesterday. Shah though stated that things swung their way in court, yesterday.

With both Shah and BMC claiming minor triumphs, the high profile SoBo garden looks set to be the subject of a bitter, prolonged battle.