mid-day editorial: Usurping Mahalaxmi not par for the racecourse

Updated: Nov 21, 2017, 07:05 IST | mid-day correspondent

The Mumbai horse-racing season got off to a galloping start over the weekend. The event, made up of 39 racing days, began with the expected thoroughbreds and thunder that accompanies races in the city

The Mumbai horse-racing season got off to a galloping start over the weekend. The event, made up of 39 racing days, began with the expected thoroughbreds and thunder that accompanies races in the city. With the taxes cripplingly high and with financial losses dogging the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), its apex body is likely to struggle to bring in the numbers and make a turnaround this season.

Land sharks and politicians should refrain from adding to the problems of Mumbaikars by making another attempt to get a piece of the racecourse for commercial use, thereby barring public access to the venue.

Whatever the shortfalls of the club - and one accepts the huge infighting and ego battles cleaving it - they have been worthy custodians of this bowl of green. The public, which ma­kes the best use of the venue's facilities in the mornings and evenings for walking or jogging purposes, should continue to get access to this public garden. The state should seek to retain the ground for Mumbaikars.

It's high time we protected the Mahalaxmi racecourse from the kind of controversies that have shaken it in the past. The space, which has been spruced for the racing season, is and should always be an open green lung for the Mumbaikar. It need not be appropriated to make a parking lot or to build a memorial or whatever else is being touted as "good use of space". The familiar excuse that racing is "too elite" should be scrapped.

If the civic body finds that portions of the Mahalaxmi space are being misused, they can always take the erring individuals to task, instead of usurping the green emerald of SoBo. Sometimes, you do not need to put a space to 'use' in the most commercial way. A forum for health, a place that can give you respite from the stresses of the day, is invaluable and certainly not useless.

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