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Municipal twins seek to kill and save greens

Spanning two-and-a-half acres,it is the only playground of its kind in Pimpri that has a population of 70,000.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
February 16, 2009 3:36:34 am

Pimpri-chinchwad : Exit playground,enter shopping complex and swimming pool

Spanning two-and-a-half acres,it is the only playground of its kind in Pimpri that has a population of 70,000. Now,it will make way for a shopping complex that the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has decided to build,at a time open spaces and green lungs are disappearing in the industrial township.

The decision has drawn fire from the opposition and environment activists.

On Friday,the civic general body meeting passed the administrative and member-proposal to set up a shopping complex at reservation number 162 in Pimpri Waghere. The proposal,meant for the playground as well as other similar plans,says,“Whichever land has commercial potential,such land should be developed on build operate transfer (BoT) basis without spending a single penny from the civic treasury. They should be given on 99-year lease.”

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Corporators present at the meeting said no discussion was held when the “civic policy for BoT” was passed. The resolution will now go to the state government for final approval.

Jagdish Shetty,the ruling NCP’s leader in the House,conceded that a shopping complex and a swimming pool will come up.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Subhash Dumbre denies the playground will completely disappear. “It’s true that we are looking at the construction of a shopping complex on a BoT basis,but a sports stadium will also come up there. The shopping complex will help us fund the construction of the stadium.”

He said the civic administration is looking at two or three alternatives for the spot. “We will soon appoint an architect who will guide us on the viability of setting up various projects like a swimming pool and a badminton court on the land,” he said.

Pimpri corporator Prabhakar Waghere said he had moved a similar proposal,seeking a shopping complex and a sports stadium at the playground.

The Shiv Sena was livid. The party’s city deputy chief,Sarang Kamthekar,pointed at Section 37 of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act,1966,which says the basic structure of the reservation cannot be changed without government approval. “Before getting approval,the PCMC is seeking to modify the reservation. This is illegal and against public interest,” he said.

The Sena plans to take up the matter with the state government. Party corporator Seema Savle said,“A growing city like Pimpri-Chinchwad needs playgrounds and open spaces to maintain a healthy environment. The PCMC seems to care little for the health of its citizens.”

Independent corporator Maruti Bhapkar alleges that the Nationalist Congress Party is using its brute majority to get any proposal passed in the civic general body without discussion and debate. “We are not allowed to speak on any policy matters,” he said.

Civic activist K Nambiar urged the PCMC to review its decision. “As it is,there are hardly any playgrounds in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Why is the PCMC out to remove the few remaining ones?”

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