On Saturday, residents of Sahakar Nagar took out a rally in protest against the proposed construction of a 3D planetarium at the only playground in the area. The 3,000-sq ft playground is reserved as an open space, and the planned facility would not only shrink the space of the playground, but would also add to civic woes, the protestors said.
The residents had earlier met Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak and had requested him to look into the matter. However, they allege that Pathak ignored their plea saying that the project will not occupy the entire ground.
Residents have been fighting tooth and nail since two months to save their open space from the construction of the 3D planetarium, which is a dream project of the local corporator Aba Bagul.
“Bagul didn’t inform any of the residents before giving the work order of the proposal to construct the planetarium,” said Bipin Potnis, a resident of the area. He added that not only the children from Sahakar Nagar, but also the kids from nearby slums of Padmavati and Taljai area also frequent the ground to play.
Another resident Sunil Gole said when the planetarium would be established at the ground, it would lead to encroachment by illegal hawkers. “The corporator is claiming that the project will consume 10 per cent of the ground.
Can he assure us that once it is completed, illegal thelas selling food items won’t take over the remaining space?” said Gole. “The visiting crowds would also create parking problems,” Gole said.
Surprisingly, an independent corporator from the area Ashwini Kadam, who works with Bagul in the area, is against the idea of any construction at the playground.
“Five years ago when the panel system (two corporators being elected from one panel) didn’t exist, I was the sole corporator from the area and at that time I wanted to build a gymnasium at the ground. However, when I learnt that the residents opposed my plans, I gave up the thought of constructing any establishment at the ground,” Kadam said.
RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said that although there is a provision to utilise 10 per cent space at open grounds for construction purposes, the proposed project wouldn’t benefit local residents.
The other side
Congress corporator Aba Bagul said the ground was not in use since 1972 and children in particular don’t play at the ground. However, when this reporter and photographer visited the site, kids were seen playing football at the ground. “I don’t have to take views or ask anyone regarding the building of the planetarium. The PMC has already sanctioned the plan and a work order has also been issued. As it’s not illegal to have an establishment on 10 per cent of open space, the work will commence any moment,” said Bagul. He added that it was just a planned political conspiracy against him to oppose his ambitious project.