Members of Garodia Nagar Welfare Federation of Housing Societies were recently caught by surprise to find the civic body's name and emblem on the sign boards of seven recreational grounds in Ghatkopar, which so far had borne the federation's name. According to them, they have been developing the grounds, measuring a total 3,48,930 sq ft after BMC handed over the same to them on May 18, 2012, following a high court order.
"On January 16, I found BMC's name and emblem pasted on our seven boards outside the grounds. I brought the matter to the notice of the assistant municipal commissioner of N ward, who said the ward had no idea about it," said BGK Murthy, vice-president of the federation.
"A few days ago, I wrote to the ward again, but have not received any reply."
Murthy and other members suspect some local BJP workers behind this. "They have never supported our federation, so it could have been put up by them," he added.
The residents have fought a legal battle spanning 10 years with the area's developer, Mahesh Garodia, regarding the handing over of the plots. Murthy said Garodia was supposed to develop the plots and hand them over to the federation for maintenance. In 2003, the federation members had filed a PIL in Bombay high court asking that the plots be handed over to them. Garodia had opposed the PIL and filed a writ petition to dismiss it. But the court overruled his objections in 2006. "The BMC, however, did not take any action on those grounds till 2011," said Murthy.
In 2011, the court passed an order to transfer the non-alienated portions of the grounds to the federation, following which Garodia handed over the grounds to the civic body, Murthy added.
"After another court appeal, the HC ordered the civic body to hand over the grounds to us," he said. These seven plots form part of the compulsory open space of the Garodia Nagar layout and are meant for the exclusive use of the colony's residents, the members said.
BJP workers from the ward, however, have a different version. Former BJP corporator of the area Bhalchandra Shirsat said some grounds were indeed handed over to the federation for development. "However, the order clearly states that the federation was only supposed to develop the plots. That doesn't mean it owns the plots," he said.
Shirsat admitted that last October he had written to the ward highlighting the importance of putting up BMC boards at the park. "We didn't have a problem if the federation had put up a board mentioning the corporation's name along with its own. However, three months after I wrote the letter, the federation put up boards bearing only its name in January," he said.
"They, anyway, have not done much work on the grounds in the last 18 months," he added.
Murthy said the federation members have been running from pillar to post to gather funds for the grounds' development and to ensure water supply there.
"To get a simple permission, such as one for water connection, it's taking months. So, how is it possible to develop the grounds so soon? Moreover, no time frame for developing the grounds was mentioned in the court order," he noted.