Worries are set to mount for South Mumbai’s Bombay Gymkhana club, with the collector’s office confirming that several structures within the premises, including a bungalow, were allegedly constructed without adequate permissions. Records at the Mumbai Collectorate also indicate that two separate lease agreements with the club for the government land expired in 2007, and have not been renewed since.
The Bombay Gymkhana has two agreements with the government, one for a built-up area of 11,251 square metres, drawn up in 1909 and the other for grounds spread out over 19,725.91 square metres, in 1941. Both expired on December 12, 2006.
Mumbai (City) Collector Ashwini Joshi said that as per the agreement, permissions were granted only for construction of a pavilion.
“A lessee has to take permissions from the collectorate for any additional constructions. If FSI permits, approvals are granted and a no-objection certificate is issued. However, the Bombay Gymkhana has not applied for any such permissions and all structures other than the pavilion are, therefore, unauthorised,” she said.
Joshi added that the club owners could have constructed the bungalow with requisite permissions like several owners of buildings on Marine Drive did when the height limit of buildings was raised. Both agreements stated that the land was leased for sports activities, recreation and entertainment. Joshi stated that clubs are not allowed to have wine shops on their premises and the excise department had found violations with liquor allegedly being served in unauthorized areas.
She pointed out that the agreement also states that when the grounds are not in use, they should be opened up to the public, a clause the club allegedly violates.
“We have recorded the violations made by the club and will report them. We have issued them a notice and are awaiting their response,” she said.
Bombay Gymkhana officials, however, maintained that there are no violations. Chief Executive Officer of the club, R N Renjen, said, “We have received the notice from the collector and are in the process of going through the past records and will reply to them. All structures are legitimate and nothing is illegal in the premises.” He did, however, concede that both lease agreements have expired and have not yet been renewed. The club has already made payments for the land lease and is awaiting the lease renewal.
According to the agreement with the collectorate, after the expiry of the agreement, the lessee is supposed to hand over the plot to the collectorate. If the party fails to do so, the collector can issue a six-week notice and take over the land. However, in this case, officials in the collectorate stated that in December 2012, the state government issued directions on renewing agreements on government land, which did not include clubs. “The policy on agreements with clubs is still in process and is awaited. Until that time, we cannot renew any agreements,” said another official from the revenue department.
Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has written to the collector asking for the hand over of a portion of land within the Bombay Gymkhana premises, for widening of Hazarimal Somani Marg from the existing width of 50 feet to 80 feet. The initiative has been taken up to facilitate pedestrian movement and the civic body is planning to create a pedestrian plaza on the 681-m stretch.
Confirming that the BMC had sent a written representation to the collector on Wednesday, Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of A-Ward, stated that the civic body has asked for 5,801 square metres of land for the road widening project.
At the standing committee meeting on Wednesday, the proposal for widening of one half of the stretch was approved.
The length of the road from Cannon Pav Bhaji to Azad Maidan is 350 metres, while the remaining 331 metre long stretch runs along Bombay Gymkhana grounds. The club stands to lose around 3000 square metres of their land which includes part of the bungalow, also the residence of the Gymkhana CEO Renjen.