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The state’s sports ministry has written to the Maharashtra government requesting the transfer of ownership of Mumbai’s iconic Azad Maidan, Oval Maidan and Cross Maidan properties. These three maidans are currently owned by the Public Works Bureau (PWD).
The ministry has claimed that the transfer of ownership will allow it to plan better facilities on the site, as well as formulating a fairer policy for demarcating areas for different sports.
“Currently the ownership of the Maidans is with the PWD. Some time ago we applied to the government to request that the Maidans be transferred to us. The tax office has also approved. We expect corresponding orders from the tax office shortly ”, said the deputy sports director Sharad Mahadik.
Part of the Azad Maidan near the CST station was given to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited for the construction of subway corridors. Of the 22 pitches in Azad Maidan, 14 are affected due to work on subway lines. Cross Maidan and Oval Maidan each have eight parking spaces.
Mahadik said the plan is to develop the remaining playing fields after part of the Azad Maidan was handed over to the sports department after the metro work was completed. “We are planning to get better facilities and also to formulate a policy for the allocation of sports fields. We have also written to our sports commissioner Omprakash Bakoria about this, ”he added.
When contacted, Mumbai City Collector Rajiv Nivatkar said, “The decision is up to the government and if they approve, we will hand over the property to the sports department.”
Nadeem Memon, a senior council member of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) responsible for all maidans, said the change of ownership is unlikely to affect the maintenance of these maidans. Major maintenance work on this site will be carried out by the MCA, he added.
“The PWD and the sports department are only owners in name. We have been maintaining parking spaces for a long time. The government is only there to authorize functions. I hope that whoever gets the property makes sure that only sporting activities are allowed on the property, ”said Memon.
In the mid-19th century, the three maidans were part of a single open space called the Esplanade. This site is one of the last remnants of open space in Mumbai and is used by many aspiring athletes.