For the second day in a row, the two ruling parties BJP and Shiv Sena in the BMC had a verbal tiff with the latter slamming the BJP-initiated LED project which they claim has “stolen the charm” of Marine Drive. Sena’s nominated corporator Avkash Jadhav presented a point of order in the floor of the general body meeting on Thursday demanding that the white LED lights be replaced with yellow or golden LED bulbs.
Only a day earlier, BJP had voted against the rooftop restaurants policy that the Shiv Sena has long been pushing for.
Jadhav said, “We are not against the LED lights. We welcome the move to install energy-efficienct lights but Marine Drive is a heritage precinct and the municipal commissioner decided to replace the lights without seeking a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the heritage committee. The commissioner has not discussed the issue even with the group leaders or corporators.” Sena corporators also slammed BMC for not undertaking the project by inviting companies to bid. Kishori Pednekar, Sena corporator said, “The company is not competent enough to even bid for the project.”
Jadhav also wrote a letter to Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee chairman V Ranganathan to stop the on-going work of installing LED lights in Marine Drive on Thursday.’
The BMC had decided to install LED lights across the city, starting with Marine Drive in January after Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal met Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte. Energy Efficiency Services, a Government of India subsidiary, is installing the new lights. The project has ran into controversy with leaders fighting over the installation. Yuva Sena President Aaditya Thackeray also tweeted against the project and claimed that BJP did not seek Sena’s opinion on it.
Manoj Kotak, BJP group leader said, “This project will save up to Rs 80 crore for BMC, the white lights installed are brighter, thus providing more security to women, drivers and pedestrians at night. People are only politicising the issue.”
Another BJP corporator Gyanmurti Sharma said, “We are not taking away the golden glow. We are giving Marine Drive a platinum necklace.”
Civic chief Sitaram Kunte said BMC has undertaken a pilot project to understand the effects, aesthetics and pedestrian comfort to the lights installed. “After we get a general consensus from citizens and corporators, we will introduce proposal by following due procedures.”