THE BUNGALOW in the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan in Byculla which Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar has declined to take up as his residence will be given to one of the three additional municipal commissioners who have not yet received official accommodation. Abandoning the plan to make extensions to the Byculla bungalow, the heritage department has been instructed to float tenders for basic restoration and structural repairs to the structure.
However, they have been unable to float tenders because it is unclear if the mayor will finally move into the bungalow — he had orally conveyed to the administration his decision to not move into the bungalow, said sources in the Shiv Sena. “We had finalised tenders when Mayor Mahadeshwar was supposed to move into the bungalow. We had even taken the heritage committee’s approval for the installation of the sound barriers since the mayor was concerned that noise pollution might disturb zoo animals,” said a civic official from the heritage department.
“But since he is reluctant to take the bungalow, we are preparing new tenders for basic repair work and will exclude the sound barriers and the extension of the ground-plus-one structure,” the official added. Another senior civic official said after the restoration is over and the mayor still does not move in, the bungalow will be allotted to one of the additional municipal commissioners — Idzes Kundan, Vijay Singhal or A L Jarhad. “We tried to make a lot of changes to suit the mayor’s needs keeping the dimensions and facilities at the Shivaji Park bungalow. After the work is done, we will inform the mayor and if he still doesn’t want to move into the Byculla bungalow, we will give it to one of the three additional commissioners depending on who applied first,” the official said, hinting that Kundan is likely to be the first pick.
The mayor could not be reached for comment. At least two months ago, the mayor had written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding the two bungalows where additional commissioners Sanjay Mukherjee and Pallavi Darade are staying. While the civic administration refused to give the two to the mayor, they had proposed to add 1,500 sq ft area including a parking space near the Byculla bungalow. The addition would increase the bungalow’s area to approximately 5,600 sq ft.
The bungalow in Shivaji Park which has been the residence of Mumbai’s mayors including the incumbent for the past five decades measures 5,200 sq ft. It is set to be converted into a memorial to late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. As an alternative arrangement, senior civic officials had also proposed that the mayor could select from other properties which belong to the BMC in the suburbs or pick a vacant municipal plot where the BMC can construct a bungalow for the future mayors of the city.