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
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