Of the 6,889 residents who participated in a ‘referendum’ organised by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporators on the issue of a playground set to be lost to the expansion of the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla, as many as 6,883 people have demanded that the playground be retained. The MNS counted the votes in the civic headquarters on Wednesday and presented the results to Municipal Commissioner’s office.
Corporator Samita Naik conducted the referendum over three days (from February 7 to 9) where people from Mazgaon to Kalachowkie cast their votes.
Naik distributed forms asking people to choose between the playground and a parking lot-cum-landscaped garden around the new museum. As part of the museum’s expansion plans, an underground parking lot is to be built at the site of the ground, itself to be converted into a landscaped garden. This, locals say, will rob children of a playground they have used for years.
In his budget speech last week, BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte announced that Rs 40 crore will be set aside for the expansion plans to be executed by New York-based Steven Holl Architects.
Sandeep Deshpande, MNS group leader in the BMC and member of the standing committee, said, “Of the total votes cast, only two citizens opted for the parking lot-cum-landscaped garden, while four citizens opted for NOTA (None of the Above). This clearly shows that people want the only playground left in the area. We hope that the commissioner takes an appropriate decision, or else we will approach the court.”
Led by Raj Thackeray’s team, locals from the area had already voiced their dissent against the corporation’s plan to create a parking lot under the playground. Naik will also move a notice of motion in the General Body Meeting of the corporation on the issue.