The battle between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, which had polarised the city a while ago, was almost fought again at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Improvements Committee meeting on Thursday when corporators across party lines demanded a change in rules to prevent discrimination on the basis of this choice.
They had earlier demanded that builders who refuse accommodation to people on the grounds of their community, or eating habits should be denied Occupation Certificates. But municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, in a written reply, had told the committee that there is no existing rule to do so.
Last month, MNS group leader Sandip Deshpande had put up a proposal in the BMC’s general body meeting citing discrimination against Marathi people. According to Deshpande, several builders refuse to sell houses to Maharashtrians assuming/ stating they are non-vegetarian.
This was followed by a case in Dahisar, where a Maharashtrian family had alleged that other residents of their society had assaulted them for cooking non-vegetarian food. The issue was debated fiercely in the general body meeting and in the Improvements Committee meeting on Thursday.
Following the reply from Mehta, corporators from Samajwadi Party, MNS, Shiv Sena demanded changes in the draft Development Control Regulations (DCR) to penalise builders who discriminate. According to them, they should not be given an Occupation Certificate. SP corporator Ashraf Azmi said developers are trying to create a rift between people on grounds of personal habits and demanded an amendment in DCR.
He was supported by Sena corporator and ex-mayor Shraddha Jadhav, Congress corporator Mohsin Haidar, and Raju Pednekar, Santosh Dhuri, Chetan Kadam and Dilip Lande. But Sena corporator and ex-Mayor Shubha Raul staged a walk-out. She said that the debate had gained a caste hue, which could create a rift between communities. She was requested to come back.
Improvements Committee chairman Prakash Gangadhare said that the provision couldn’t be made since builders don’t cite food habits openly as a reason to discriminate. “There are laws to take care of those who discriminate.
There is no reason to bring about a separate amendment in the DCR. This issue is too trivial and should not even be discussed. Everybody has the absolute freedom to eat according to his or her choice,” he said. The issue will be discussed further.