With no help coming from politicians in their struggle to preserve the four-decade-old Dr N A Purandare Stadium, angry residents and sportspersons from Dadar (east) have decided to press ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) button in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Residents in the locality are fighting to save the iconic stadium, which is presently accessible to all residents, from being converted into a “members-only” club by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The civic body has planned to turn the stadium into a state-of-the-art stadium-cum-gymnasium for doctors of the BMC-run KEM Hospital.
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Residents had been campaigning against the BMC’s move for the last two years, during which, they met politicians across all party. They had also met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had ordered the BMC commissioner to hear local residents’ demands before planning a revamp.
Despite assurance from the CM, residents claim the BMC seemed to be in no mood to drop its plan.
“With this move, we will lose access to the only playground in our area, spread in about 27,000 square metres. We have requested all residents and sportspersons from Naigaon area to boycott voting for any political candidate and press NOTA instead in the upcoming elections. In the last two years, we ran from pillar to post to save this stadium. After meeting several politicians and receiving promises that residents entry into the open space will not be affected, there is no such change made in plans,” Dhiren Khanolakar of Purandare Bachao Samiti said.
He added: “We will hold a meeting with local residents on Saturday evening and request people to press NOTA in the upcoming polls to register our protest against the BMC’s plan. All political leaders have had shown their support for our demands. Even the local MLA, Kalidas Kolambkar, had organised a meeting with the chief minister, where we were promised that the municipal commissioner will hear us and new plans will be made to revamp the stadium, but nothing happened so far.”
The BMC has proposed a Rs 12-crore posh gymkhana for the doctors of KEM Hospital.
“It is a huge ground in the middle of Dadar. We don’t want this ground to be taken away from us. NOTA is a way for us to register our protest, in a battle we have been fighting with the authorities for two years now,” said Mohit Sawant, a resident of Parel.
Local residents have made digital posters and have forwarded them on social media, requesting people of nearby localities to press NOTA in the upcoming elections.
Purandare stadium is located in Naigaon, Dadar east, which falls under Mumbai South Central Lok Sabha constituency. While Shiv Sena has fielded sitting MP Rahul Shewale, Congress has once again given ticket to senior leader and former MP Eknath Gaikwad from this constituency.