IN its second major initiative after coming to power, the ruling BJP in Pimpri-Chinchwad has decided to reserve the “HA ground” in Pimpri for public amenities. A proposal to this effect is likely to come up for discussion in the PCMC General Body meeting on June 20.
“Yes, we have decided to take over the HA ground land from Hindustan Antibiotics. The plan is to offer them TDR (transfer of development rights) instead of purchasing the land in cash,” said MLA Laxman Jagtap, Pimpri-Chinchwad BJP president.
Jagtap said his party was making all efforts to take over the land and set up public amenities on it. “Open spaces are fast disappearing in Pimpri-Chinchwad. The HA ground is one of the most popular spots for people of all ages, especially the health conscious kinds. Therefore, the BJP will make all efforts to maintain the sanctity of the ground and also develop it further so that residents can make full use of it for recreation and sports purposes,” he said.
Sarang Kamtekar, general secretary of the BJP, said the administration has already prepared a proposal and it would be placed before the civic general body for approval. “The objective is to ensure that the grounds and open spaces are maintained at any cost. Otherwise this city will become a concrete jungle,” he said. Sunil Pataskar, general secretary of HA Majdoor Sangh, said, “The central government has given the company the permission to sell 87 acre land in its possession. We plan to raise over Rs 800 crore by selling the land. It is up to the PCMC to take the call on purchasing the land. We need money and we are looking for buyers…” he said. Pataskar refused to comment the TDR offer from the PCMC. Kamtekar said TDR is the cash compensation for the land purchased. HA employees, however, said they were not in favour of the PCMC forcibly reserving the ground.
Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd, Pimpri, which has been ailing for years now, was struggling to pay salaries to its nearly 1,000 employees. Only recently, it paid pending salaries of two months after the central government extended financial assistance. Except for agriculture unit, all other production work at HA ground has come to a halt. HA has nearly Rs 50 crore dues to its employees.
To meet the financial crisis and start some sort of production, the Centre has allowed HA to sale some of the land in its possession. As a result, HA has decided to sale nearly 87 acre land in its possession in Pimpri.
The PCMC is seeking to reserve 59 acre piece of land belonging to HA at Nehrunagar for public amenities. A major part of the 59-acre land houses the HA ground. The HA ground belongs to the HA colony where the struggling PSU’s employees stay. The other piece of land is located opposite the HA ground between Ajmera and Nehrunagar area.
The HA ground is the only one of its kind open space left in Pimpri-Chinchwad and is popular among residents of all ages. Through the day, scores of youngsters can be seen participating in various sporting activities, cricket being the favourite. On weekends, the ground is packed with enthusiastic youngsters. Morning and evening joggers are a common sight at the ground on a daily basis. Major exhibitions and cultural activities too are organised regularly at this ground. Civic activists, intellectuals and sportspersons have hailed the BJP’s move. D G Baliga, a senior citizen, said, “NCP spawned concrete jungle by blindly giving permission for setting by residential and commercial building. As a result, Pimpri-Chinchwad has become a chaotic city and gone are the days when one could freely loiter on open spaces. One hopes the BJP will be serious about taking over the HA ground and keep it as it is so that youngsters can hone their sporting skills.” Advocate Sushil Mancharkar, a resident of the area, said, “At any cost, the PCMC should ensure that private builders don’t grab the land by offering big bucks. PCMC should also ensure that MHADA does not get the land. MHADA will grab the land and sale houses at exorbitant cost like it has done elsewhere in the city. It will only add to the chaos in the city.”
Kiran Dhanvate, a resident of Gurav Pimple, said, “There is not one suburb in Pimpri-Chinchwad where you can find an open piece of land. It seems the PCMC is on a roll snatching open spaces and handing them over to builders. In this backdrop, the move to take over HA ground is heartening.” Sheetal Mahankale, a sports teacher, said, “Everywhere in Pimpri-Chinchwad, one finds children using public roads as grounds. They play cricket and football right on the public roads as grounds have become few and far in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Therefore, it is an appropriate move by the BJP to take over the HA ground. One hopes the party will succeed in getting it from the company.”