Review RG/PG policy: CM Devendra Fadnavis tells civic chief Ajoy Mehta

In a victory for the city’s open space activists after months of struggle, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday directed Municipal Commi-ssioner Ajoy Mehta to review the RG/PG policy, and ensure that all the open spaces be utilised for Mumbaikars.

Also read: Activists look at ways to get open space policy scrapped

Ashish Shelar emphasised in his meeting with Fadnavis, that the BMC should come up with a policy that will ensure Mumbai’s open spaces remain accessible to the common man. File pic
Ashish Shelar emphasised in his meeting with Fadnavis, that the BMC should come up with a policy that will ensure Mumbai’s open spaces remain accessible to the common man. File pic

He also directed the civic body to acquire the 230 plots that are presently leased out to private organisations, and to stop leasing out open spaces in the future until the policy is reviewed. Activists have BJP city chief Ashish Shelar to thank as he met the CM seeking his intervention on Friday, after which Fadnavis directed the municipal commissioner.

Also read: BMC's controversial open space policy passed

The BJP received tremendous flak recently, after its corporators supported the policy along with the Shiv Sena. They were accused of allowing the policy to be passed but they maintained that they had not voted in support of it.

There were reports of infighting within the party as well, since corporators had apparently gone against the opinion of city chief Shelar, who had been vocal against the policy.

BMC chief Ajoy Mehta and CM Devendra Fadnavis
BMC chief Ajoy Mehta and CM Devendra Fadnavis

Shelar approached Fadnavis on Friday evening, requesting his intervention to put a stay on the controversial policy that was passed in the BMC general body meeting on Wednesday.

In his demands Shelar emphasised that the BMC should come up with a policy that will ensure Mumbai’s open spaces remain accessible to the common man. Shelar said he feared that the spaces would become inaccessible to citizens if they fall into private hands through the RG/PG policy.

Speaking to mid-day, Shelar said, “I met the CM for three important points. First, the previous caretaker policy was stayed haphazardly. Because of the stay, the BMC could not take back 230 plots given on adoption basis. For example, MET College has such a plot. Therefore, I demanded that these plots be taken back immediately. Besides, the policy was passed in the House the other day and needs to be referred back. Thirdly, I have already moved a private member bill in the Vidhan Sabha recently, in which I will make it mandatory for the municipal commissioner to be the caretaker of open spaces. It will be his obligatory duty to do so, and not his discretionary one.” He added, “The House has passed the bill. Once it comes into force, the open space policy may lapse anyway. The CM was very positive and has asked that the policy be reviewed. This means it can’t be implemented immediately.”

Activists speak
Activists are more than glad with the news. Anandini Thakoor, activist from the H-west federation who had decided to file a PIL in court challenging the policy, said, “We are grateful that the CM has ordered the BMC to take back the 230 open spaces whose lease has expired and also not to implement the RG/PG policy, till all citizens’ concerns regarding privatisation are addressed.”

Also read: BMC's open spaces policy - The big Mumbai con

“This is a victory of democracy. The CM and his party members, Ashish Shelar and Ameet Satam, have done a fantastic job of listening to the people. All of us can celebrate,” said Shailesh Gandhi.

Share your thoughts
If you have an opinion or a suggestion to safeguard the open spaces of our city, mail them to: mailbag@mid-day.com

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