Representatives of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Wednesday to express their concern over the Mumbai Police’s decision to allow permission for ‘morchas’ (protests) inside Azad Maidan.
A few days ago, some policemen along with a couple of PWD officials were spotted at Azad Maidan taking measurements of the ground. After a few cricket club owners enquired about the activity, they were informed that the venue for daily morchas had been changed from the original area opposite the BMC headquarters to the one near Fort Vijay Club due to the ongoing construction work for a Metro Rail project.
If the morcha venue gets relocated, it will straightaway have an impact on cricket at Azad Maidan. Already, the government has taken up more than half of Azad Maidan for the Metro project. Jayant Zaveri, general secretary of Fort Vijay, said no notice was issued to the clubs and no intimation was given to the MCA in this regard.
“My groundsmen called me a few days ago stating that police were taking measurements at our ground. I came and asked about it. I was told that these measurements were being taken because the morcha venue was about to change. I straightaway informed the MCA about it,” Zaveri said.
If the venue for public morchas is shifted to the field, it will deprive many cricketers of their daily net practice and matches. Zaveri added: “If you see, there are only five to six clubs left at Azad Maidan. If morchas are allowed here then Azad Maidan can only host one game at a time. Where will cricketers go? There is no ground left in the city. How will you produce cricketers?”
The matter was soon bought to the notice of MCA president Ashish Shelar, who also heads the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party’s Mumbai unit. Shelar said this decision would have a major impact on cricketers, adding that he would make sure that the matter was resolved at the earliest. “I will be meeting the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, on Wednesday and raise this issue. I’m hopeful the matter will be solved,” he said.