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Corporators play the name game again

Rotary Club challenges BMC move to name garden after member’s kin.

MUMBAI : It’s the same old pathetic story again – corporators vying with each other to name roads, gardens and playgrounds after their deceased relatives, several of them not known to have contributed anything of significance for the city.

In the latest instance, Congress corporator from Chembur Jyothi Shishode has stirred a controversy in the locality by getting the civic house to pass a resolution naming a garden in Chembur after her late father-in-law R.H.Shishode who has been described as a "socio-political activist". Ms Shishode is the wife of former corporator Deepak Shishode.

However, the Rotary Club of Bombay Chembur (west), which has been entrusted with the task of developing and maintaining the garden behind Chembur gymkhana, has filed a writ petition in the high court challenging the BMC’s decision to name the garden ‘Late R.H.Shishode Udhyan’.

In 1994, the BMC had allotted the marshy land to the Rotary Club. Last year, the club developed the plot and turned it into a garden with special facilities for handicapped children. It raised Rs 4 lakh in cash and another Rs 4 lakh as donation. The club wanted to name the garden ‘Rotary garden for handicapped children and senior citizens’.

In its plea, the club said, "The local corporator, who is the wife of a former corporator of the same ward, did nothing to protect the garden plot from encroachment by anti-social elements before it was adopted by the club. Now that it is ready to be dedicated to the children of the locality, she wants it to be named after her father-in-law". The petitioners said the BMC’s resolution was "arbitrary illegal, unreasonable and violative of all principles of natural justice".

Ms Shishode was not available for comment.

The Rotary Club claimed that although the plot had been allotted to it, the civic administration did not consult its members or take them into confidence while naming the garden. Raising objection to the BMC resolution, the club pointed out that the Shishode family had done nothing for the development of the garden. Club members also stated that the garden should not be named after any local socio-political activist.

It may be recalled that earlier this year, the Arthur Bunder Road at Colaba was renamed as Haji Niaz Ahmed Azmi Marg after the late father of Samajwadi Party city president Abu Asim Azmi.

Mr Azmi had described his father as a "social worker" who had helped set up an ayurvedic college in Uttar Pradesh. Sensing an opportunity to score brownie points over a rival party, the Shiv Sena protested against the renaming, stating that Mr Azmi’s father had not contributed anything to the city. Interestingly, the Sena top brass probably forgot that its own party corporators in the BMC, who are in the majority had approved the renaming of Arthur Bunder Road when it came up for approval.

The business of renaming the city’s landmark roads and institutions has become a fashion with politicians and reached such bizarre dimensions that some say the only things left to be named are the lamp-posts. Constitutional expert and eminent Mumbaikar Nani Palkhiwala had once said that a "person who wants to rename anything should be taken straight to a mental asylum".

Civic source allege that some corporators take money from influential residents to put up proposals to name a chowk or lane after their deceased relatives. This has led to cases where places have been named after people who have scarcely made any contribution to society.

A few years ago, the BMC had to shelve the naming of a road at Chembur after a deceased "social worker". The civic authorities went red in the face when the police informed them that the social worker in question, Kisan Bhimanna Kamble, was in fact a notorious criminal murdered by a rival gang in 1989.

The proposal to name the Chembur road after Kamble was made by then Shiv Sena corporator Narayan Rane, who went on become chief minister. In his renaming proposal, Mr Rane had described Kamble as a former chairman of the local Shiv Shakti Mandal who had "solved local problems".

Courtesy : The Times of India
Date : 17/09/2001

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