BMC threatens police action against WIFA

Football association accused of starting construction at grade-1 heritage site without permissions.

BMC has issued a third notice to Western India Football Association (WIFA) to stop construction at Cooperage Ground, a grade-1 heritage site.

The first notice was issued on August 30 and the second on October 20. In the third notice issued on October 30, the corporation warned of police action if the work continued.

The district collector had issued a notice on April 21 asking WIFA to get necessary permissions from the state government, chief architect, Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) and BMC for the ongoing work on a stadium, clubhouse and AstroTurf.

Newsline has copies of all notices.

WIFA secretary Sauter Vaz said, "We received the notice and stopped construction over 10 days ago."

The matter was discussed at an MHCC meeting in September after nearby residents wrote a letter complaining that the structures were being constructed on the 140-year-old ground without its NOC.

Former municipal commissioner Sharad Kale, who stays near the ground, said the "unauthorised" work included "laying a concrete surface by replacing existing greenery, covering it with an AstroTurf and constructing stadium stands".

"We have issued a stop-work order to the organisation. We have also asked them to demolish temporary structures built earlier since these were constructed with BMC permission and the committee was not formed last year," said V Ranganathan, chairman of MHCC.

"BMC permitted some temporary stands for six months. However, the structures were not demolished after six months, instead other construction work was taken up without heritage committee approval," he said.

"Despite the notices, work on the ground continues. We found irregularities in management of the ground. Work is going on without necessary permissions and beyond permissions. The case regarding redevelopment of Cooperage Ground is pending in Supreme Court," said Ashad Mehta, president of Oval Maidan-Cooperage Residents Association.

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