A day after Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre led a rally at Kanderpada, Dahisar, along with 25-30 local NGO members, to protest against the civic body's decision to hand over a plot that was reserved for a fire brigade station, to a private developer for commercial purposes, she has decided to escalate the matter once again to to seek civic chief Sitaram Kunte's interference in the issue.
"We will seek an appointment with the municipal commissioner in this matter and fight for this case. The BMC can easily spend Rs49 crore to acquire the plot from the land owner," said Mhatre.
As per the documents with BMC's development planning and building proposals departments, a 4.5 acre plot on the Dahisar-Link Road near the east-west flyover, was reserved for a fire brigade station.
"However, the BMC has allotted half the plot to a private developer, Malhar Realtors Pvt Ltd, for constructing two-high rises (19 storeys each, with the first two floors for stilt parking), in exchange of which, the developer was to build the fire brigade office free of cost," said a local, who was part of Monday's protest.
Mhatre demanded that the BMC should have constructed the fire station and used the remaining land for public amenities, or for housing firemen instead of giving it to a private developer. "The civic body could easily spend Rs49 crore to acquire the plot, instead of giving it to a developer," the Congress corporator said.
Mhatre informed that Kunte, on May 28, had given orders to revoke the commercial exploitation of the plot in a meeting with Sanjay Nirupam, the former MP of the Mumbai-North constituency, along with local corporators and residents.
However, the building proposals department has given the Intimation of Disapproval 'in-principle' approval for a proposed project to start construction the same day.
"Local MLA Vinod Ghosalkar later met Kunte and told him that giving it away was in the interest of the locals as well as the BMC," Mhatre said. She insisted that there was no way that commercial exploitation of the plot would benefit locals.
Ghosalkar, on the other hand, defended his stand saying that, the acquisition process would have taken years, and as a result, there would have been no fire brigade station in the area for that long.
"According to the central government's new acquisition policy, acquiring the plot would have been very expensive and would have taken years. A modern, 10-storeyed, fire brigade building, at Dahisar was the need of the hour, and it would have been stalled if the BMC had to go for the acquisition process," said Ghosalkar, adding that the plot was never a BMC plot.
Refuting Mhatre's claims, he said that the fire brigade will be better equipped than most of other fire brigades in the city. It will also have 27 staff quarters for the firemen. "I wrote to the BMC administration as this will benefit 5 lakh people in the area," he added.