On Thursday, a routine visit to Marine Drive promenade proved to be the onset of a four-hour-long drama for BMC officials, which saw a makeshift steel gymnasium being uprooted from its location and later being re-installed. While the make-shift gymnasium proved to be a source of rigorous exercise for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray too kept himself busy, throughout the day, tweeting clarifications behind the reinstallation.
Meanwhile, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta ordered an inquiry into the entire incident late Thursday. Mehta has set up the inquiry under Additional Municipal Commissioner Pallavi Darade and the report is expected in a couple of days.
The officials from C ward (which includes Marine Drive) on Thursday morning dismantled an open-air gymnasium installed at the promenade, which was inaugurated by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and Bollywood actors Dino Morea and Jacqueline Fernandes on Wednesday evening. The authorities had to, however, re-install the gymnasium at the same location within a couple of hours.
According to officials, while the photo-ops of the inauguration went public on Wednesday, the ward officials remained unaware of a steel structure standing tall in the heritage precinct, till the routine rounds on Thursday. It was only after they dismantled the structure that officials found themselves in a tricky situation, as they realised that it was being touted as junior Thackeray’s pet project for the city’s fitness ethusiasts. The branding on the steel installation interestingly read that it was installed by Dino Morea with the name of his company displayed. Morea has already installed similar 10 ft by 10 ft fitness stations at Bandra Bandstand, Five Gardens, Worli Sea-face and Dadar Shivaji Park earlier.
A senior civic official from the ward said, “The ward office had not even given permission for the installation. We found it at the promenade during our routine visits and decided to remove it. We have, however, re-installed it now after knowing that higher authorities had given permission for it.”
The open-air, open-for-all gymnasium is an ensemble of fitness equipment that people can use for regular work-outs. The equipment allows residents to do push-ups, crunches, stretching and different kinds of pull-ups.
Following the dismantling at about 10 am Thursday, Thackeray immediately replied to a series of tweets within a couple of hours stating that the ward officials were “apparently unaware” and the gymnasium was installed with all permissions, from “heritage department to municipal commissioner”. He further tweeted, “The BMC local officers have apologised for their ignorance of the municipal commissioner’s permission. Will be placing it (the gymnasium) again now.”
Later in the day, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray issued a statement. He said, “We had not told people how to use the gym equipment but removing and installing it again would have been like exercising for the administration.”
Earlier in April, Morea had written a letter to the corporation seeking permission to install the gymnasium on the stretch opposite the Taraporewala aquarium. The letter mentioned that each fitness station would be an “easily removable structure with non-corrosive material” that will not cause any damage to the heritage promenade.
According to officials, the commissioner had given permissions for the installation of two open-air gymnasiums on Marine Drive. While one has been installed opposite Kapur Mahal, the other one, which was dismantled on Thursday morning is opposite Taraporewala Aquarium. MHCC members also said that the committee has given permissions to install the gymnasiums on a pilot basis.