Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Friday asked the Maharashtra government to create a park for Mumbaikars on the 225-acre race course land at Mahalaxmi.
The 99-year lease to the Royal Western India Turf Club from the State expired on Friday. Both the civic corporation and the Shiv Sena will make detailed proposals to the government next week.
Releasing a plan for the proposed park, Mr. Thackeray and Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu called on the State government not to stand on ego because the suggestion had come from the Sena.
Mr. Thackeray said this was an opportunity that had come after 99 years and it should not be allowed to go. Mumbai should be known for other things and not a race course alone.
He clarified that he had not said the proposed park should be named after his father Bal Thackeray. That was a matter which could be discussed later, he felt.
He distributed plan for the proposed park —it would have a recreation area; space for cultural and social activities, including a race course history museum; physical activities, including rock climbing and bike paths; and entertainment sections.
He said a beautiful garden could be created on the land. “We can invite suggestions from people. Already, Bollywood set designer Nitin Desai is interested. After Independence, we have done nothing really for the people of Mumbai. The Gateway of India was not made by us,” he pointed out.
Mr. Thackeray said he was not against race courses. “As we already have a race course in Pune, this one can be shifted outside Mumbai. We can invite international bids for design. Even a public opinion poll can be conducted for the park.”
Asked what would be his stand in the event of the government not agreeing to the proposal, he said he would not like to have any negative thoughts now. The State government has so far taken a stand that only it can decide on the lease renewal and this was reiterated by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday.
Civic commissioner Sitaram Kunte said the municipal corporation was in the process of preparing a dossier looking at the ground level situation and also the decision of the party group leaders to cancel the lease.