The alliance government in Maharashtra has seen increased strife across its ranks in recent times as tensions between Congress and Shiv Sena seem to be at its peak. Recently, another controversy came to light after Shiv Sena led standing committee of the BMC decided to clear the proposal for an almost Rs 10 crore waiver to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. While Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP are allies at the state government level, at the BMC level, they are opposing parties.
The Shiv Sena led committee of BMC cleared a proposal by BMC to waive off almost Rs 10 crore that the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is supposed to pay the government for barricading a large part of the road and the footpath in front of the hotel for security purposes. The Congress leaders and several other leaders from opposition parties like NCP, BJP and even SP have been up in arms about the decision by Shiv Sena.
The allegation that is now being levelled is that the proposal to benefit Taj was passed without letting other opposition members speak. The charge has come primarily from Congress. Congress leaders are now alleging that the decision by Shiv Sena led BMC came even as then Maharashtra Lok Ayukta M L Tahaliyani had recommended that BMC come up with a policy on this. The main contention is that the BMC is charging other commercial establishments despite similar purposes, and hence the hotel should not be given any waiver.
Ravi Raja Opposition leader in BMC from the Congress party said the Shiv Sena was now a ‘party only for VIPs who frequent five-star hotels’. He also said he would file a PIL with Bombay high court. “We are exploring legal options and will move HC as no one is listening to us in BMC, and arbitrary decisions are being taken,” he said.
Bhalchandra Shirsat, the BJP corporator and standing committee member of the BMC, said, “The BMC or state government does not give any waiver to common man, but it is being given to big companies. The corporation did not pay salary to disabled employees citing cash crunch, and here it is giving a waiver of over Rs. 9.50 crore for no reason.”
The Rs 10 crore waiver that Shiv Sena has decided to grant to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
After the horrific 26/11 terrorist attack, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, that was one of the epicentres of the ghastly attack, started barricading a part of the road and the footpath in front of its hotel for security purposes.
Taj barricades and occupies around 800 square metres of public road and over 1,100 square metres of footpath. For this, Taj has to pay more than Rs 10 crore to the government.
The proposal by BMC stated that around Rs. 8.8 crore will be waived for the occupation of footpath and for Rs. 1.3 crore, which it has to pay for road occupancy, it will get a 50% discount. So, Rs 9.5 crore has been waived and Taj has only paid around Rs 66 lakh.
It is now being reported that Shiv Sena leader Yashwant Jadav, who heads the committee that has taken this decision, had written to civic chief Iqbal Chahal to draft a policy for Taj considering the security threat, and the held it extended to BMC employees during Covid.
The proposal to waive off almost the entire Rs 10 crore amount that Taj is to pay the government was passed with a ‘social and security aspect’ according to Yadav.