Opportunity for Mumbaikars to take control of land after 99 years, says Uddhav

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday submitted to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan a plan for setting up a state-of-the-art theme park and garden on the Mahalaxmi race course here, whose lease expired on May 31.

While approving the concept, Mr. Chavan told Mr. Thackeray that he would consult all parties and seek consensus before going ahead with the plan.

The expiry of the 99-year lease of the Royal Western India Turf Club, which has maintained the race course, prompted the Sena to reiterate its demand for a theme park on the sprawling ground.

“We do not want to politicise the matter and we urge others to desist from making this a ‘prestige issue’ as the people of Mumbai have got an opportunity to take control of this land after 99 years,” Mr. Thackeray told reporters after a 40-minute meeting with Mr. Chavan at his residence ‘Varsha’.

The race course is spread over 8.5 lakh square metres, of which six lakh square metres belongs to the State government and the remaining area to the Shiv Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

Present at the meeting were senior Sena leader Subhash Desai, Mayor Sunil Prabhu, Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and the BMC’s standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale.

Earlier, Mr. Thackeray asked for suggestions on or objections to the Sena proposal, while clarifying that he had never demanded that the garden be named after his father and Sena supremo, the late Bal Thackeray.

Planners and activists have examined options ranging from setting up a theme park to building a public garden on the lines of London’s Hyde Park.