HC disposes Bombay Gymkhana's petition in road-widening tiff

Updated: Dec 10, 2016, 07:58 IST | Vinay Dalvi

SoBo club had sought to prevent BMC from claiming a chunk of its land for widening road outside its premises

The BMC wants to widen the Hazarimal Somani Marg outside the club to 30 metres, as it wants to turn it into a canopied pathway for pedestrians. File pic
The BMC wants to widen the Hazarimal Somani Marg outside the club to 30 metres, as it wants to turn it into a canopied pathway for pedestrians. File pic

The Bombay High Court refused to give any relief to the 141-year-old Bombay Gymkhana in its ongoing tussle with the BMC over a road-widening project. HC disposed the petition by the plush club, which sought to prevent BMC from taking possession of its land for the project.

HC disposed the petition filed by the gymkhana as BMC claimed it would abide by the law while carrying out any road widening outside the gymkhana. The court while disposing of the petition filed by the gymkhana held it was filed prematurely and said in future the petitioner can re-approach the court if any action is taken. The petition had sought interim orders of protection against any coercive action that will prevent its members from parking on the strip of land.

The civic body and the gymkhana have been at loggerheads since June, reportedly after the club – which has several top industrialists and sportsmen as its members – refused to give lifelong membership to IAS officers.

The tussle
The club in its writ petition has been claiming that BMC cannot take land from it without making changes in its Development Regulation Plan (DPR). The BMC wants to widen the Hazarimal Somani Road outside the club that connects MG Road (Fashion Street) to CST, claiming that lakhs of people use the road to go to CST. It needs to broaden the road to 30 ft as it plans to make a canopied pathway for pedestrians. The Gymkhana is set to lose its tennis court, heritage bungalow, restaurant and ground.

Notices to gymkhana
“Seven notices have been served to us right from the excise department, fire department, collector office and BMC for road widening,” claimed senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas who appeared for the club in front of justice SC Dharmadhikari and BP Collabawalla.

While the excise department sent a notice for serving liquor in the veranda area, the city collectorate’s office has declared a grocery shop and the laundry facility in the changing room for sportspersons as illegal and the fire department declared the eating area non-compliant.

BMC says
Contending Dwarkadas’ argument, Anil Sakhre, senior counsel appearing for BMC said, “BMC was just carrying out a survey at this point and notices were served only for the same purpose. We are doing preparatory work for road widening and everything will be done in accordance with the law. We are at a very preliminary level,” said Sakhre.

The civic body has requested the city collector’s office for 5,809 sq m of land including over 2,000 sq m of land on the built up area of the Gymkhana for widening the Hazarimal Somani Marg. Apart from the Gymkhana, the State Commission, Human Rights Commission, Azad Maidan Club and several stalls are likely to be affected due in the road widening project.

Did you know?
The Bombay Gymkhana, a landmark site at Azad Maidan was established in 1872 to offer young sportsmen of small means a chance to indulge in their activities at a minimum cost.

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