Do not disturb stables at racecourse, RWITC members tell Chahal | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Do not disturb stables at racecourse, RWITC members tell Chahal

By, Mumbai
Jan 19, 2024 08:14 AM IST

Members of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) are concerned about the state government's plan to build a theme park and public garden on a portion of the Mahalaxmi racecourse. The club is requesting that the existing stables not be disturbed. The BMC plans to demolish and rebuild the stables elsewhere on the racecourse. Members are also confused about the definition of a theme park and why it is necessary. The future of the project will be decided through an online vote by club members.

Members of Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) have expressed apprehension over the state government’s ambitious proposal to set up a theme park and a public garden on 120 acres of the 211-acre Mahalaxmi racecourse.

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HT Image

At an open house called for the members of RWITC, which manages the racecourse, with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Thursday, a common demand made was to not disturb the existing stables.

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BMC plans to demolish the existing stables and reconstruct them elsewhere at the racecourse by spending 97crore.

Speaking to HT, Chahal said the stables are old and dilapidated and they are occupying a large area of 31 acres. “RWITC members proposed that the stables be fitted in 17 acres of land, and we accepted it.”

RWITC members, who were more than 100, also failed to understand why BMC kept calling it a theme park when Chahal clarified that it would not be an “amusement park”.

“I think the definition of a theme park is an amusement park but the people behind this concept have a different meaning for a theme park. They are still trying to clarify it is a public garden. So, there is confusion in some of our minds,” a member of RWITC, who refused to be identified, said.

Vivek Jain, former RWITC chairman, who was present at the open house, said most of the members did not want the stables shifted.

“The meeting was held in good spirits. There is no clarity why the government wants to do this when the club is maintaining a green park with multi-use. However, the assurance given was that there would be no construction and no SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) project,” Jain said.

Jain further said when he raised the point about the London Eye at the theme park, Chahal replied that they would not do it if RWITC did not want it.

“From what I see it is a long-drawn proposal. Very few said it was a great move, but many wondered why a theme park was needed in the first place. Chahal said he was not the decision maker, and it would have to be taken to the chief minister,” Jain said.

Chahal even mentioned giving permission for an underground parking lot if RWITC wanted, Jain added.

Another RWITC member Viren Shah said their major contention was the conditional renewal of the lease and taking away 120 acres of land for creating a green space which was already green.

“They will do the renewal only if certain conditions are met. There is a lot of resentment about that. And if everything remaining is green and already open to the public then why do they want this theme park?” he asked.

Shah confirmed that an underground parking lot would be constructed by BMC if RWITC wanted it. “The park and the walking area will go eight feet below and the racetrack will be on the top of it. This will be subject to what RWITC wants,”

Chahal said he assured the members he would give them in writing that there would be no builder; no brick would be put in 120acres of land, and it would be a public garden forever. “I said I would give an affidavit and it will be mentioned in the MoU as well.”

The BMC administrator said the members were happy. “There is no truth in Aaditya Thackery’s allegations.”

“No underground parking is planned. If RWITC agrees then adjacent to their parking we can build one for them underground,” Chahal added.

The session went on for over two hours.

The members will take an online vote from January 27 for three consecutive days, and it will decide the future course of action.

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