cbd-stadium-2The monthly general body of NMMC saw Commissioner Vijay Nahata presenting a proposal on the stadium and sports complex at CBD Belapur with the clause that even the children of CBD will have to pay to use the stadium playground. When the NMTV Team visited the stadium, not only did flaws in the making of the stadium come to light but it also exposed that loot of public taxes and how NMMC has snatched a playground from the children of CBD Belapur. Our weekend exclusive finds the answer to the question “Who is responsible for robbing a playground in the name of a stadium in CBD Belapur?” This stadium at CBD Belapur is an example of how your taxes are often misused by NMMC. It also showcases how influential corporators use public funds to do work in their wards for their personal benefits and often against the interest of the masses. How else can one explain NMMC’s decision to construct a stadium on the largest public playground for children at Sector 5, CBD Belapur? For those who might not know, once upon a time this was a public playground named after late Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi that was popular among children of CBD for being the host of all their games and sports. One child also informed that the playground was used by their schools for sport activities, which were stopped after the work of the stadium started. Completely overlooking these needs of the children and school students, the NMMC, under much influence of local corporator Dr. Jayaji Nath, approved the proposal of building a stadium here during the period when Dr. Jayaji Nath was the NMMC Standing Committee Chairman. And instead of studying the feasibility of the project, NMMC Engineering Dept. headed by City Engineer Mohan Dagaonkar and his team approved the plans of the stadium. How ill-equipped, ill-studied and self motivated the officials of NMMC are is evident in the shape of the stadium that is uneven and imbalanced – not even close to the otherwise known shaped of stadiums anywhere. The reason for this is that, a large portion of the ground has huge trees and this was missed in the layout plans that can now be seen in the irregular shape of the stadium. When we posed the same to local NCP Corporator Dr. Jayaji Nath, he confessed that plans were changed after the project started. While Dr. Nath is seen covering up for the irregular shape of the stadium, Commissioner Vijay Nahata was more forthcoming and did not hesitate to accept that he did not want trees to be cut and preferred changing the design instead. While the corporator and administration have their own explanation for the mess up in the shape of the stadium, it cannot cover up the fact that the NMMC Engineering Dept. failed to do homework on the stadium project due to which this neither looks like a stadium nor a playground. May be that is why Commissioner Vijay Nahata prefers calling the project as a sports cum cultural center instead of a stadium that is it otherwise perceived to be. Another defect is that NMMC has spent public taxes on building shops in the stadium despite knowing that shops in this location in CBD would not generate revenue. Even Commissioner Vijay Nahata accepted the same in an interview with us. While these are the technical defects, NMMC administration went a step ahead in doing injustice to the children of CBD Belapur. In the proposal that the administration presented at the general body meet this month for renting out the stadium, the Commissioner has made no provisions for making the stadium available to the children of CBD Belapur when not in use. It may be recalled that when the proposal was presented three years ago for the first time, the then NMMC Commissioner Madhukar Kokate had mentioned the clause of making the stadium available for children of CBD free of cost when the not in use. But as the stadium is getting close to being ready, the present Commissioner has removed this clause, which is a cruel denial of an essential civic amenity to the citizens of CBD Belapur. When we met NMMC Commissioner Vijay Nahata on this, he said that he believes in framing rules that were the same for all – in other words – be it the children of CBD Belapur or outside – all have to pay charges for playing on the playground. Residents, especially children of the node feel that the only playground in CBD has been forcibly encroached upon to construct markets and facility for games and programs, which has to be paid for. In the backdrop of this grave injustice, NCP leader and Dy. Chief Minister Chagan Bhujbal had recently addressed NMMC corporators on how Navi Mumbai was blessed to have open playgrounds unlike Mumbai. It is rather ironical that while on one side the Dy. CM advised NCP corporators to give a helping hand of support to the poor. On the other hand, children are complaining of how they cannot pay charges for playing in the stadium complex as most children in CBD Belapur come from families who won’t be able to afford this. So this raises the question of “Who is responsible of robbing a playground in the name of a stadium at CBD Belapur?” According to Dr. Nath, if charges are levied for playing in the stadium, only administration will be responsible. According to Commissioner Vijay Nahata this question borders to being ridiculous as it questions all development work in the city. And according to MLC Manda Mhatre, both administration and ruling front of NMMC are responsible for this grave injustice to children. Zeba Warsia, NMTV News.

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