Fad­navis in­ter­venes to save your open spa­ces

AF­TER FLAK CM asks BMC chief to re­view pol­icy, take note of cit­i­zens’ ob­jec­tions

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - San­jana Bhalerao san­jana.bhalerao1@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: Rat­tled by the grow­ing pub­lic anger at the BMC’s plans to hand over Mum­bai’s open spa­ces to pri­vate en­ti­ties, chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis on Fri­day in­ter­vened to put the move on hold and or­der a re­view.

Just two days back, his party, the BJP, had done a U-turn and backed its ally the Shiv Sena to push through the con­tro­ver­sial open spa­ces pol­icy in the teeth of op­po­si­tion from ac­tivists who had warned that cit­i­zens would lose ac­cess to the city’s 1068 open spa­ces if it was im­ple­mented. Hin­dus­tan Times has long cam­paigned to save our open spa­ces, ever since the pol­icy was first im­ple­mented in 2006-07 and re­sulted in nine large plots fall­ing into pri­vate hands, out of bounds to the pub­lic.

Fad­navis has now di­rected BMC com­mis­sioner Ajoy Me­hta to re­view the pol­icy and sub­mit it to him af­ter tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion cit­i­zens’ ob­jec­tions. He has also asked Me­hta to take back pos­ses­sion of 235 open spa­ces given to pri­vate en­ti­ties in 2007 un­der the ear­lier pol­icy.

That pol­icy was put on hold within a year but in re­cent months the Shiv Sena has been push­ing to re­vive it with some mod­i­fi­ca­tions, which it claimed ad­dressed cit­i­zens’ con­cerns. But no one was con­vinced, not even the BJP, whose city chief Ashish She­lar had pub­li­cally called for a re­view just two months back. But on Wed­nes­day, he and his party col­leagues had helped the Sena push the pol­icy through in the BMC gen­eral coun­cil.

But as the protests grew, the BJP back­tracked again. Ear­lier in the day, the Maharashtra Navnir­man Sena chief Raj Thack­eray too had jumped into the fray adding to the dis­quiet in the BJP, which is very keen to outdo the Sena in the BMC elec­tions sched­uled in 2017.

He threat­ened to cam­paign against the pol­icy, ac­cus­ing the Sena-BJP of favour­ing builders. “The en­tire pol­icy is tai­lor­made to suit the builders’ lobby. Th­ese builders will take over the ground, con­struct clubs and re­strict the en­try of the com­mon cit­i­zens,” Thack­eray al­leged.

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