The state government has cleared the decks for the construction of a new bungalow for the Mayor of Mumbai in Shivaji Park. For this, the urban development department has accepted a proposal to modify the permitted land use of a 2,400-sqm designated public open space near Shivaji Park. The land, which at present houses a 40-year-old municipal gymkhana (Municipal Kreeda Bhavan), will now be reserved for municipal housing.
While the Shiv Sena has been eyeing this plot for more than a year, the proposed modification had been kept in abeyance so far following opposition from the members of the gymkhana, many of them serving and retired municipal employees. Raj Thackeray’s MNS has also opposed relocating the official mayoral bungalow in order to construct a memorial to Bal Thackeray at the site of the current mayor’s bungalow.
When the Fadnavis government sanctioned the city’s new Development Plan (DP) in May last year, the contentious modification was kept in the ‘Excluded Part’ of the DP, to which public suggestions and objections were invited. But even as the gymkhana members and activists filed written objections to the plan, the government has decided to give a final nod to the modification.
Following opposition to the modification, the municipal administration had suggested an alternative site for the new mayoral bungalow, a playground site adjoining the Mahalaxmi Race Course. While it was also proposed to amend the reservation of the Mahalaxmi plot, which is much bigger in size, to municipal housing, the state’s town planners have voted against the idea. The proposal has been dropped, said sources.
Anticipating opposition from the gymkhana members, an alternative proposal to relocate the gymkhana on a portion of the Mahalaxmi plot was also suggested. But the state’s town planners are not entirely in favour of permitting built-up space on another existing open space.