BJP MP returns 17 acres to Mumbai, ball in Sena court

Jan 19, 2016, 06:49 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

The BJP, which had initially supported the policy, has now taken a U-turn and left Shiv Sena alone to defend open spaces policy

In a bid to show Shiv Sena in the bad light over the open spaces controversy, BJP Member of Parliament Gopal Shetty on Monday wrote to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta offering to return three plots of land he had on caretaker/adoption basis totaling to 17 acres.

Gopal Shetty speaking at a press conference
Gopal Shetty speaking at a press conference

Activists, politicians and the BMC are part of a fierce battle for the city’s open spaces. After the civic body came up with its open space policy and had it passed recently, the Sena and BJP relations became bitter. The BJP, which initially supported the policy, has now taken a U-turn and left Sena alone to defend the policy. Also, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered the BMC to take back all plots given on adoption basis.

BJP MP Gopal Shetty, who had the Poisar Gymkhana, Veer Savarkar Udyan and Kamla Vihar Club under his aegis for the past several years, has offered to return them. Located in Borivli, these three together total 17 acres. Shetty yesterday wrote to Mehta offering to surrender these plots since his name re-surfaces time and again as one of the biggest landholders. Besides, this move could put the spotlight on several Sena bigwigs — Subhash Desai (Prabodhankar Thakre Ground, Goregaon) and Ravindra Waikar (Matoshree Club, Andheri) — who are also holding onto some plots.

“I am ready to leave possession of the plots with immediate effect. It will be good if the BMC agrees to repay all the money spent by the public exchequer on the development of these grounds. Even if they don’t, we will hand over the plots,” said Shetty at a press conference yesterday.

However, Shetty maintained that he and his team has developed the grounds as per rules but red-tapism in the BMC prevented them from developing it any further. Shetty said the authorities did not give permission for constructing a clubhouse there.

Besides the three plots, Shetty also maintains Sai Baba Fitness Centre, Sardar Patel Udyan, Jhansi ki Rani Garden, Phula Deshpande Garden, Prarthnalay at Kastur Park and Jairaj Nagar garden next to Mahisa Mardani temple.

Adopt a plot
The new open spaces policy stated that the civic body could hand out recreational grounds and playgrounds to private entities for a period of five years. In the previous policy, the caretakers constructed clubhouses on the BMC plots, which the BMC disallowed in its new policy. CM Devendra Fadnavis put a stay on the new policy last week.

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