BJP MP Gopal Shetty ‘allowed’ 9 open spaces to be encroached


mumbai mirror, 08-01-2019 19:29:35


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BJP MP Gopal Shetty ‘allowed’ 9 open spaces to be encroached

 

In the land-starved Borivali-Kandivali belt, activists have alleged that nine out of 13 open spaces are allegedly directly or indirectly under the control of bJP MP Gopal Shetty.

Open spaces are public properties over which only civic/government/authorised agencies can have control, but they can be developed through local MP/MLA development funds. The 13 plots were developed through MLA funds when Shetty formerly represented the Borivali constituency in the assembly.

Activists claimed that civic authorities are either lax in taking back the plot and letting them be exploited for commercial gains.

They also alleged that efforts are also underway to regularise encroachments on these open spaces through the offices of the collector, the BMC and the MHADA.

According to data procured through the Right to Information Act, Poisar Gymkhana, Kamala Vihar Sports Club and Pro-Git Gym leased out by Yuvak Mandal in Kandivali West; and Veer Savarkar Udyan and Adi Ganesh Mandir Charitable Trust, sub-leased to Kerkar gymnasium in Borivali West, are some of the reserved recreation grounds where Shetty is either directly involved as a trustee or has subleased them for commercial gains. Shetty nominated Adi Ganesh Mandir Charitable Trust—in which he is allegedly a trustee—as caretaker of the 42,000-sqm reserved playground in Borivali in 2007 under a state policy, who in turn sub-leased it to Kerkar gymnasium without a formal handover. In 2016, the matter was brought to the notice of United Association for Social Educational and Public Welfare Trust by the locals. 

The 13 plots were developed through MLA funds when Shetty formerly represented the Borivali constituency in the assembly.

“We were informed that a lot of open space plots were encroached upon and misused for personal benefits by trusts and organisations connected to Shetty, especially in instances where he had used his MLA development funds in the Borivali-Kandivali belt,” said Reji Abraham, civic activist from United Association for Social Educational and Public Welfare Trust. The issue reached the offices of Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, the Lokayukta (the anti-corruption ombudsman) and even the urban development department. Following some pressure, the BMC issued a seven-day show-cause eviction notice on January 5, 2017, to Adi Ganesh Mandir Charitable Trust. Following this notice, Shetty wrote to Mehta on January 12, 2017, asking that the structure be regularised. This letter, of which Mirror has a copy, read: “The occupation of these properties has been declared as illegal by R-Central ward office. It is seen that many new constructions throughout Mumbai are being raised by means of MLA/MP funds and the transaction of handing over by MHADA/BMC are delayed for administrative reasons. It is true that members of public receive and enjoy various facilities through the trusts like M/s Adi Ganesh Charitable Trust, Kriti Mahila Utkarsh Mandal or M/s Yuvak Mandal as the BMC or any other government cannot reach to every corner of the public concerns. There is nothing wrong in this system, provided that the ground realities are also accepted by the BMC from the side of public trusts, who with the collaboration of elected representatives try to think about the welfare of the common man. You are therefore requested to kindly arrange to

regularise the case considering the realities. Trusts like Adi Ganesh Charitable Trust and others try to maintain the same with co-operation and guidance of public members as well as trustees and BMC (sic).” The Lokayukta, too, brought the illegalities and irregularities on record on October 15, 2018. Shetty denied having any open space under his trust’s control. “Only Poisar gymkhana plots are under the charge of the trust, and no government money is used. I don’t even remember being the trustee of Adi Ganesh Mandir Charitable Trust. I am a trustee of Ketkar gym, which was constructed through government funds and thereafter handed over. There are thousands of amenities and open space plots running on MLA funds. The BMC has no policy in place for running open spaces.” 

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