The Maharashtra government’s plan to construct an all-weather, day-night airport at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse came under sharp attack from the opposition in the state Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
The Shiv Sena has proposed building a mega theme garden for the common man. The picture above is what the Sena wants the garden to look like
Reacting to the story that appeared in mid-day yesterday (‘State asks BMC to give up land for racecourse heliport’), Subhash Desai, Shiv Sena’s leader in the Assembly, demanded that the government scrap the plan immediately or it would face agitation from Sena workers.
The Sena itself has a different plan for the land it has proposed a theme garden for the common man. “We have already proposed a theme garden for the common man, but the government is clandestinely pushing for this project, which will only benefit VVIPs. If this is not taken back, we will agitate,” Desai said during a debate in the house. A delegation from the party met the CM yesterday and submitted the garden plan.
Later in the day, the party held a press conference and handed out a press note, with copies of mid-day’s report and it’s own plan attached. “We fail to understand why the government is pushing for the heliport. We have seen the government plan today in the papers and have met the chief minister to demand an answer from him. This should be scrapped at the earliest,” Desai later told the press.
Speaking to this correspondent, Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray had also raised questions on why the CM was keen on pushing the heliport when other files related to various development projects were still pending.
This paper had reported yesterday that the state planned to take over racecourse land held by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in a bid to push for the heliport. The Maharashtra Airport Develop-ment Company (MADC), the state body responsible for developing airports, had directed civic authorities to immediately start land transfer formalities, and make changes to the development control rules for the same.
The government and BMC are currently joint owners with an 80:20 ratio. “We have written to them asking for handover of the nearly 20% of the land under the BMC’s control,” a senior official from MADC had told mid-day. The MADC requires nearly 80,000 square metres to complete the project, which is meant to ease movement of VVIPs in and around south Mumbai.
Shiv Sena’s plan for racecourse
The party proposed a common theme garden for citizens after the 99-year-lease on the racecourse expired on May 31 last year. According to the plan, the garden will have a plethora of facilities – scenic walks, fountains, a sports centre, health centre, gymnasium and facilities for cricket, basketball and tennis. The document also shows an amphitheatre, open-air theater and a stage for cultural programmes, among others.
>> Approach road beginning at Haji Ali end
>> Fire station
>> Two single-storey restrooms for VVIPs
>> Four berths for aircraft
>> 600-metre long landing strip in the middle of the racecourse