The controversy over the temporary structure erected at the spot where Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray was cremated in Shivaji Park is unlikely to end anytime soon.
While admitting the municipal commissioner had issued him a notice asking for removal of the structure, Mayor Sunil Prabhu yesterday said there was no plan to dismantle it. Prabhu, who is from the Shiv Sena, said that people were still going to the spot to pay homage to Thackeray.
“Our senior leader is talking to the state government on the issue,” he said. “We will not remove the structure as it is important to keep the sanctity of the place where a great leader was cremated.”
Prabhu also said that there were thousands of illegal structures in the city that were a real nuisance. “The municipal commissioner should first demolish these illegal structures,” he said.
Asked what would be his stand if an illegal structure were to come up on the Mayor’s Bungalow premises, he said, “There is no question of an illegal structure, as we are taking about the sanctity of the place. We want to keep the sanctity of it at Shivaji Park.”
The notice was issued by Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte to the mayor as well as Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, but it did not mention a deadline.
After Thackeray’s death on November 17, permission had been given to use an area of 100 sq feet for the funeral on November 18 with a validity period of a day.
Kunte said that the structure was unlawful as the permission was for the purpose of cremation and collection of asthi thereafter.
“The permission granted for a specific purpose has expired and we have written to Sena leaders asking for the immediate removal of the illegal structure,” he said.
Asked whether the civic body would remove the structure if the Shiv Sena failed to do it, Kunte replied in the negative, stating no decision of the kind had yet been taken. “We will decide on the future line of action once I receive the status report from officials concerned,” he said.
Asked if help from Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh would be sought if the BMC had to take action, he said: “I am in touch with the police commissioner on the issue.”
Shiv Sena secretary Vinayak Raut, who is on a tour with top party leader Uddhav Thackeray, said, “No decision has been taken on whether the structure will be removed or till when it will be kept.
The structure will be kept intact till Uddhavsaheb reaches Mumbai.”