Owing to the uncertainty over finalising the mayor’s permanent residence, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar is unlikely to move out of the Shivaji Park bungalow any time this year. As the senior Shiv Sena leader has remained steadfast on his demand for moving into two Malabar Hill bungalows currently allotted to two additional municipal commissioners, the heritage department has halted the process of floating tenders for repair works to the bungalow located inside the Byculla zoo premises, which has now been proposed as the new mayoral bungalow.
The Shivaji Park bungalow is to be converted into the proposed memorial to Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Sources in the Sena said the Mayor had orally conveyed to the administration that he would not move into the Byculla bungalow. “He has told the administration that he won’t move into the Byculla bungalow in as many words. He has already voiced his choice of either the municipal commissioner’s bungalow or the two bungalows on Malabar Hill. The administration has not given any yet,” said a Sena leader.
The party leader added that the Byculla zoo area was meant for officials needed for daily functioning of the zoo. “A letter sent by the Central Zoo Authority to the Byculla zoo authorities back in 2012 had even directed that the residential quarters for the garden superintendent be shifted out of the zoo premises since it was not related to the zoo management. Allotting accommodation for a mayor in the zoo will be inconvenient for both parties,” he said.
While Mahadeshwar was unwilling to comment on the subject, another Sena corporator said the mayor hoped to complete his tenure in the Shivaji Park bungalow. “Even though it is the party’s dream to construct the Balasaheb Thackeray Memorial, it will easily take a couple of years before the work on the ground can begin. Our mayor is not in a hurry to move since it is quite possible that his tenure will be over by the time the property is handed over to the trust and the actual work begins,” she said.
Officials from the heritage department said even though they were supposed to complete the repair work before June, they were yet to even float the tenders for the project. “Apart from the regular repairs, we had prepared tenders for major structural changes as per the needs of the mayor and for installation of sound barriers around the bungalow since the Byculla bungalow is supposed to be the permanent residence of all the future mayors too. However, since the mayor doesn’t want to move in, we have not floated the tenders yet. Now we can only start the work after the monsoon season,” said the official. He added that no work had started at the Byculla bungalow till date.
Another senior civic official, however, said the two Malabar Hill bungalows could not be allotted to the mayor. “The two bungalows are in a sensitive area due to its proximity to the Malabar Hill water complex and cannot be made available to the mayor. We will give this response in writing to his office as well later this week,” he said.
The official added that the Byculla bungalow was the only feasible option at this point. “The decision to make the Thackeray Memorial at Shivaji Park was taken by the state government. Though it will take a couple of months to change the reservation of the plot, the work will eventually start and the mayor will have to vacate the Dadar bungalow and either move into the Byculla bungalow or choose another property in the suburbs,” said the official.