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  Home >> Gardens, Playgrounds & Trees >> Locals stall bid to grab playground

Locals stall bid to grab playground

Mumbai: Had it not been for alert local residents, another open space in the city would have become a mere statistic in the list of grounds gifted to builders in the recent past.

    When a builder tried to conduct bhoomi puja to inaugurate his project on a playground this week, residents from the Mhada Colony at D N Nagar in Andheri came out of their homes in hordes to foil his bid.

    The 2,100 sq ft playground is located bang in the middle of the complex of 45 buildings constructed by Mhada under the slum clearance scheme. The plot is shown as a reserved playground in the masterplan.

    Surprisingly, neither the reserved playground or the rest of the colony can be located in the BMC’s development plan. The reason? Mhada’s failure to submit its plan to BMC. Housing activists say avoiding the superimposition of its masterplan on BMC’s development plan is a standard ploy used by Mhada to facilitate selling off land to builders.

    Making full of this loophole, a few years ago a builder constructed a residential complex on half of the plot. Earlier this year, another builder put up his hoarding announcing an upcoming project on the remaining part of the playground. “When the first half of the plot was given away to a builder a

few years back, the local politicians succeeded in silencing us. But this time we will fight tooth and nail to preserve this playground for our grandchildren,’’ said 65-year-old Malathy Desai, who along with other women from the area pulled down the corrugated sheets put up by the builder on November 14.

    “A copy of Mhada’s plan dating back to 1988 clearly demarcates the plot as being reserved for a playground. But in 2002, the plot was dereserved without following proper procedures ,’’ said another resident, Kanchan Patil.

    When asked about the ad-hoc allotment, chief officer of Mhada’s Mumbai board S Sonawane said, “I can’t comment until I verify all the records.’’

    Meanwhile, residents are pursuing a petition in the civil court against Mhada and the builder. Documents produced by the builder in court showed that Mhada had sold the plot to Vignaharta Hsg Society in 2002, while society registration papers showed that no such society was registered before February this year.

    “The BMC has the power to dereserve a plot but as long as Mhada doesn’t submit its final plan to BMC, it can change the reservations anytime. This is not an isolated case. It has been happening to vacant lands under Mhada all over the city,’’ said former Mhada vice-president Chandrashekhar Prabhu.

Publication:Times Of India Mumbai;  Date:Nov 17, 2005;  Section:Times City;  Page Number:6

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