In less than 24 hours, after being forced to remove the temporary make-shift structure, built for the funeral of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray at the Shivaji Park playground in Dadar, the Sena controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) accepted the party’s proposal for a landscape garden in the playground.
The proposal to build, 40x20 square feet landscaped garden was presented in the group leaders’ meeting on Tuesday and was later accepted. However, Sitaram Kunte, Municipal Commissioner, BMC, said that, any work on the proposal is possible only after verifying the legal side of it. “We will send our team of Additional Municipal Commissioner and legal experts to the spot. The work will begin only after we get clearance from that team,” said Mr. Kunte.
The party which was boasting of not removing the structure until alternative land is provided, will now have to wait for the legal opinion from the BMC administration. Apart from the legal hurdle, the proposal itself has become a major embarrassment to Sena as the proposed garden cannot have any type of construction inside it. The garden will not even have the statue of Mr. Thackeray and no object can be kept inside.
“As per the proposal, we have demanded a landscaped garden to be built in the memory on Balasaheb. The garden will not have any structure in it, except for square shaped soil platform, hence it will not violate any legal or coastal zone norms,” said Sunil Prabhu, mayor of Mumbai.
The major opposition party, Congress, has extended its support to the proposal. “We support the proposal, only if it fulfils legal criteria. We will not let Sena violate any legal or environmental norm under the guise of the garden,” said Dyanraj Nikam, opposition leader of BMC.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, the Sena removed the temporary structure, which had become the point of controversy from last few weeks. The structure was removed at around 3 AM on Tuesday morning amid tight security and in the presence of party’s senior leaders. The activists had even brought stones to build another identical structure at different spot, within the playground. Following the altercation between police authorities and shivsainiks, the senior leaders of the party decided to back down and wait for the official transfer of land from the civic body.
From last two weeks hundreds of shivsainiks have been keeping continuous vigil on the structure, after it became clear that the BMC will remove the structure. Five activists were arrested by the police authorities for vandalising the BMC office. The activists were divided in to several groups, which were operating in shifts to protect the structure from getting removed.
Former speaker of Lok Sabha Manohar Joshi had initiated the controversy on the second day of Mr. Thackeray’s cremation by demanding the playground for the memorial of Bal Thackeray. Sena had even planned to rename Shivaji Park to Shiv Tirth, in the memory of late Mr. Thackeray, which was severely opposed by the residents of the area and by all political parties.