The fight continues over a 3,500 square meter plot of land in the old Powai area that was reserved for a garden, but has now been approved for the construction of a cinema hall. Local residents are not impressed and are determined to get the plot developed as a garden.

Before it was sold to a developer, the plot was owned by Chandrabhan Sharma, a BJP leader and one of the biggest landlords in the area. Sharma’s son Chandan is attached to the NCP and was a corporator in the last term. According to Chandan Sharma, “The said plot was originally meant for a cinema hall but the government converted it into a garden without consulting my father (owner of land)….There are no cinema halls in Powai and eventually it will be a facility for people at large.”

It won’t be if the residents have their way though.

The trouble started in 2004, when the reservation on the plot requiring it to be developed as a garden was to be removed. However, after locals protested, the process was stalled by the state government. Recently, the reservation was finally lifted, and all obstacles were cleared for construction of a cinema hall.

Residents aren’t giving up so easily though, and have gone to the extent of obtaining all necessary documents under RTI. “We have now decided not to let go of this plot. It is about time our area gets a garden,” said Singh. Member of Parliament Sanjay Patil and Member of Legislative Assembly Naseem Khan too have joined hands with the residents.

“I have already written to the government to ensure that a garden is developed on the plot. The residents are justified in their demand as there are no recreation facilities in the old Powai area,” said Khan. Patil on his part too confirmed that he was with the residents in their demand for the garden.

“While newer constructions in Powai have several gardens and playgrounds, old Powai area, which is densely populated, has no recreation facilities at all. All the gardens and playgrounds have been dereserved and commercially exploited by the owners,” said Balbir Singh, president of Powai Vikas Prathishthan (PVP), a NGO working in the area.

What do you think? Should the plot be developed as a cinema or garden?

Article sourced from the Mumbai Mirror.