BMC cancels Wankhede quarantine centre plan

Move comes in view of monsoon, opposition from nearby residents

After local residents opposed the move, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Sunday cancelled its plan to turn Wankhede Stadium into a quarantine facility.

In a letter issued to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) on Friday, the BMC had sought immediate handover of the stadium for housing asymptomatic high-risk contacts and emergency staff of ‘A’ Ward.

Mayor’s visit

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited Wankhede on Saturday and even tweeted that it would be used to house asymptomatic positive patients, considering the increasing number of cases.

However, local residents had started opposing the move and the Marine Drive Residents’ Association wrote a letter in this regard to Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta. Assistant municipal commissioner of A ward Chanda Jadhav confirmed that the plan was cancelled after the complaints.

However, Sanjay Naik, secretary, MCA, said, “We have not heard from BMC since the letter.”

Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal seemed to be taken aback at the reports about Wankhede stadium’s use for COVID-19 facilities. “I am surprised because the CM had ordered me that setting up facilities in open grounds will lead to a lot of issues during the monsoon, as there will be muck. There are so many parking facilities which can be used. Then why should we erect these huge pandals on grounds, especially with monsoon around the corner? So there is no such consideration and no stadium will be taken. Open grounds are not a good option.”

Residents relieved

Ashok Rao, President, Federation of Churchgate Residents, said, “The residents will definitely be happy as there are a large number of senior citizens in this area.”

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had tweeted on Sunday, “…good call on taking up wankhede stadium to develop a quarantine facility..suggestion to @OfficeofUT – why not take over Brabourne stadium as well?It has much needed facilities @PawarSpeaks @AUThackeray (sic)”

To this, Cabinet Minister Aaditya Thackeray replied, “Sanjay Sanjay ji, we can’t take the grounds of the stadiums or playgrounds because they have a mud base and they won’t be usable during monsoons. An open space with a solid/ concrete base is usable and it’s being done already. Had it not been for our monsoons, it is very usable. (sic)”

Mr. Raut later tweeted, “The decision to not have COVID-19 hospitals on Wankhede or Brabourne is a correct policy by Aaditya Thackeray. Playgrounds must be saved.”

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