June 27, 2021 1:32:26 am
THE STATE sports department has written to the Maharashtra government seeking the transfer of ownership of Mumbai’s iconic grounds Azad Maidan, Oval Maidan and Cross Maidan to it. At present, the ownership of these three maidans rests with the public works department (PWD).
The department has claimed that the transfer of ownership will allow it to plan for better facilities on the grounds and also formulate a more equitable policy for demarcating areas for different sports.
“At present, the ownership of the maidans is with the PWD. We have sent an application to the government some time ago seeking that the maidans be transferred to us. Even the revenue department has agreed to this. We are expecting orders to this effect from the revenue department soon,” Deputy Director (Sports) Sharad Mahadik said.
A part of the Azad Maidan near CST station has been given to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited for construction of Metro corridors. Of the 22 pitches in Azad Maidan, 14 have been affected due to work on Metro lines. Cross Maidan and Oval Maidan have eight pitches each.
Mahadik said the plan is to develop the remaining pitches after part of the Azad Maidan is handed over to the sports department following completion of Metro work. “We plan to get better facilities and also formulate a policy for giving pitches for sports. We have also written to our Sports Commissioner Omprakash Bakoria regarding this,” he added.
When contacted, Mumbai City Collector Rajiv Nivatkar said, “The decision rests with the government and if it approves, we will give the properties to the sports department.”
Nadeem Memon, apex council member of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and in charge of all maidans, said that the change in ownership is unlikely to have a bearing on the maintenance of these maidans. Major maintenance work on these grounds are carried out by the MCA, he added.
“The PWD and the sports department are owners only in name. We have been maintaining pitches for a long time. The government is only there to give permission for functions. I hope that whoever gets ownership, they ensure that only sports activities are allowed on these grounds,” Memon said.
In the mid 1800s, the three maidans were part of a single stretch of open space called the Esplanade. One of the last vestiges of open spaces in Mumbai, these grounds are used by many budding sportsmen.
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