Nearly three years after first coming up with the concept, the Shiv Sena Tuesday gave a renewed push to its demand to convert the Mahalaxmi Racecourse into a theme park open to the public. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray discussed the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at Mantralaya.
Though Fadnavis did not give any commitment, he said he would convene a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the demand.
“We have proposed to create a Mumbai-themed park over 226 acres on the racecourse land. Almost no city has a race course right in the middle of the city. We could shift the race course out of Mumbai such as Navi Mumbai or Alibaug or whatever,” said Aaditya, son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The Shiv Sena has been firm in its view that the piece of plot in Mahalaxmi, on which the Royal Western India Turf Club operates a racecourse, should be turned into a public garden.
The Sena had raised the issue just before the state elections. Uddhav Thackeray had met the then CM Prithviraj Chavan and told him to consider moving the racecourse out of Mumbai. The senior Thackeray had then demanded that the area be turned into a public park on the lines of London’s Hyde Park.
“In 2013 and till mid-2014, we almost gave up on this demand because the government was under Congress and NCP, but now the situation is different. It is our coalition in the government, so we decided to take up the issue again,” said Aaditya.
The racecourse has been leased to the Royal Western Turf Club of India for a period of 99 years.
The Mahalaxmi racecourse, set up in 1883, occupies 8.5 lakh square metres of open space — a vital green lung in the heart of the island city. The BMC claims to own 2.5 lakh square metres of the land, while the state owns the rest.
The turf club’s lease ended in 2013, after which it has applied for renewal but the state government is yet to take a decision. The proposal is currently stalled at the level of the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, from which the state urban development department had sought clarifications on certain issues as well as the plot’s land records.
In light of the recent terror strike at the Air Force base in Pathankot, Aaditya also urged the chief minister to take actions towards bringing the Juhu aerodrome under the Central Industrial Security Force, which secures almost every other airport in the country.
“I had written about this to the Central government in 2014, but somehow the letter may have not come to the government’s attention. The chief minister has agreed to act upon my request,” he said.