SOCIETY USING RECREATION GROUND AS PARKING LOT
The residents of F-Road in Marine Drive have urged the city collector to cancel the lease of a co-operative housing society for alleged misuse of a vital open space for parking and denying access to local residents. More than 800 families from 26 buildings on F Road in Marine Drive have demanded access to the ground measuring 25,000 sqft (nearly two acres), which was given to sub-lessee Shri Niketan Housing Society for 999 years.
The open space has been reserved as a recreation ground (RG) in the BMC’s development plan (DP), but angry locals have accused the management of Shri Niketan CHS for parking more than 65 cars on the RG plot used by six owners. As of now, the gates of the recreation ground comprising a garden are closed and it is being exclusively used by the society.
“This is probably the only society where six owners are using the RG plot to park 10 cars each. Only schoolchildren of Hindi Vidya Bhavan are allowed to use the plot. The trustees of the school are the residents and committee members of the society. All these years, the revenue generated from organising functions on the plot has not been utilised to maintain the ground but the society,” said Nikhil Banker, member, Marine Drive Residents’ Action Group (MDRAG).
Banker said that the society has not submitted its accounts to the Registrar of the Societies for many years, and the matter has been brought to the notice of the collector. During Sitaram Kunte’s tenure as municipal commissioner three years ago, he had submitted a letter to the city collector to take possession of the RG plot for alleged violations and hand it over to the BMC. “The collector has to take a stand and revoke their lease agreement.
While locals are denied entry, trees are cut and part of the ground is concretised. It is an RG plot for 13 housing societies and not just one society. Last year, the collector took back Todi garden on Marine Drive and handed it over to the BMC despite being maintained well. Why can’t the collector do the same here?,” asked Shirish Shah, chairman, MDRAG. Suresh Chhabria, another member of MDRAG, said that local residents will rope in the corporates to maintain the RG plot. “We want a walking track, a recreation space for senior citizens, an ampitheatre.
Forty years back, all buildings had access to the garden plot. Now, they have increased the height of the walls of the RG plot and blocked entry by locking the gates,”said Chhabria. Shri Prakash Somani, secretary of Shri Niwas CHS, remained unavailable for comment. When Kiran Seth, manager of the society, was contacted, he said he didn’t want to comment on the issue despite being aware of it. City Collector Sampada Mehta said that she had received the complaint about denial of entry to Marine Drive residents on the RG plot from the society. “I have called for a hearing of both the parties on Tuesday. I will take a call on the cancellation of the lease after the hearing,” said Mehta.