Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mahalaxmi Racecourse may gallop into history

May 16, 2013,Mumbai:--

The iconic race course at Mahalaxmi may soon be replaced by a theme garden. The Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided not to renew the 99-year lease to the Royal Western Indian Turf Club, which runs the race course.

Of the total 8.54 lakh sq metres of the land occupied by the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), 2.54 lakh square metres is owned by the BMC.

Leaders of the civic body, including Mayor Sunil Prabhu, now say they want to develop a 'theme garden' on this portion of the land.

The BMC had leased out the 225-acre prime land to the RWITC for 99 years in 1914. The lease period expires on May 31. While the BMC has leased the plot to RWITC, the larger portion of the land is actually owned by the state government, which had leased it to the BMC.

Yashodhar Phanse, Shiv Sena corporator and leader of the House, raised the issue in a meeting of leaders of various groups on Wednesday. "We want a 'theme garden' to be developed on the land. The citizens have restricted access and not throughout the year.

While all the international cities have at least three such gardens, we don't have one," said Phanse.

Last month, Mayor Sunil Prabhu had written to civic chief Sitaram Kunte recommending that the lease not be renewed and the land be turned into a theme garden for the benefit of citizens.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Dilip Lande also supported the move.

Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party group leader, said, "It is good if the plot is used for citizens. But, a policy must be made for all plots rather than choosing plots randomly."

However, Congress leaders in the civic body have raised doubts over whether the BMC will be able to develop such a large plot.Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said the legal aspects of the issue would be checked before a final decision is taken.

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