MVA allies reject BJP’s Bandra Fort revamp proposal

The ruins of Castella de Aguada, the 17th century Portuguese structure better known as Bandra Fort.

The ruins of Castella de Aguada, the 17th century Portuguese structure better known as Bandra Fort.   | Photo Credit: UNKNOWN

BMC’s standing committee shoots down move citing lack of clearances, encroachments around structure

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance partners — the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party — put up a united front in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee meeting on Friday to reject a ₹20-crore proposal mooted by BJP’s Bandra West MLA Ashish Shelar to beautify the 17th century Bandra Fort.

Earlier this month, the standing committee had deferred the proposal to give the fort a makeover. The plan includes revamping the fort’s entrance, using basalt rock in the garden’s sitting area, setting up a cycling track, installing a plaque narrating the fort’s history, carrying out landscaping and beautification work, reconstructing the compound wall, putting up fences, and building toilets and a vermicompost pit.

Though there is no official Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in the BMC, the allies teamed up in the standing committee meeting. The opposition parties moved an amendment to the original proposal and sought that it be rejected. The amendment was supported by the ruling Shiv Sena and after voting was called on the proposal, a majority of corporators rejected it.

Introducing the amendment, Congress corporator from Bandra Asif Zakaria said, “The spot in question has a lot of encroachment which needs to be cleared first. Any proposal will require the sanction of the Mumbai Maritime Board. The aesthetic lights proposed to be put up will not withstand the sea breeze and become defunct. There are several such problems with this plan, which is why it should be reworked.”

Backing Mr. Zarakia’s claims, Leader of the House and Sena corporator Vishakha Raut said, “There are 300 shanties at the site and people will have to be rehabilitated. Do we have alternative accommodation for them? There are several forts in Mumbai which also need to be revamp. They should all be taken up together.”

However, BJP corporator Prabhakar Shinde asked the committee not to politicise the issue. “Yes, there are several forts, but we can start with this one,” he said. Standing committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav also said the BMC should consider revamping all forts in the city. He directed the administration to address these issues before taking up the proposal again.

Mr. Shelar has been engaged in a verbal spat with the Sena since the fallout of the Sena-BJP alliance. He has also been a strong critic of the State government. When the BMC had deferred his proposal, he had tweeted, “Oppose petty politics of Congress Bandra corporator and Shiv Sena standing committee chairman, stopping funds to a sanctioned project to protect heritage Bandra fort. One can have disagreement and raise questions but to refuse sanctioned funds and stall development- just not done.”

Interestingly, Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray is pushing for the development of 22 tourist sites in and around Mumbai. The civic body has set aside money in its annual budget for the development of Worli Fort, which falls in his constituency.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 8:58:49 PM |

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