The civic body’s decision to allot half-acre land adjoining the Garware Balbhavan for a cartoonist art gallery has not gone down well in certain quarters of the city. Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) Standing Committee passed a resolution last week that the proposed art gallery would be named after late Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray.
With the scarcity of playgrounds plaguing the city, the director of the Balbhavan and the chairman of PMC’s sports committee have raised objections to the sanctioning of the land for an art gallery next to the Balbhavan. They contend that the land should have been given to the Balbhavan so that they could extend their current facility.
“The Standing Committee has not only provided half-acre land where the civic body’s own storehouse was located, but has also made a provision of Rs 70 lakh by diverting funds from other heads for the Rs 2 crore project,” said Ashok Harnawal, Shiv Sena group leader in the PMC.
“The gallery will have two permanent structures and a parking facility for the visitors,” he added.
Avinash Bagwe, chairman, sports committee, PMC, said, “I don’t object to the gallery being named after Thackeray, my objection is that the gallery should not be constructed near the Garware Balbhavan, which provides recreational facilities for children. A gallery can be set up anywhere in the city. Allotting this space to the Balbhavan will greatly benefit children and would be certainly useful for the organisation.”
“Currently, the city has only 50 big and small playgrounds for children against the required 450 grounds. PMC misused 25 reservations earmarked for children’s play ground wherein they constructed gardens and community halls for cultural programmes. The existing 300 reservations in the Development Plan should be used judicially by the PMC in the future with a view to build playgrounds for children,” said Bagwe.
Currently, Garware Balbhavan occupies 1.5 acres of land. Shobha Bhagwad, director, Garware Balbhavan, said, “Around 500 children visit the ground every evening, and during summer vacations the number crosses 1,000. We need this ground, as the current facility is not sufficient to meet the requirements. The city’s population is growing and children don’t have grounds to play. Instead of constructing 33 new gardens in the city, the civic body should reserve it for only playgrounds.”
Madhuri Sahastrabuddhe, director, Balranjan Kendra, said, “On paper the civic body has a total of 299 open spaces. These places are being utilised for other purposes rather than as playgrounds.”
Sahastrabuddhe is also a BJP corporator and member of the civic body sports committee.