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TRUST AND TRESPASSING; A BMC SCHOOL STORY

Friday, August 11, 2017
By Steffy Thevar

Over the years, a high drop-out rate has forced the BMC to shut down many schools. Unfortunately, the premises of some of these schools was given to the BMC by Trusts and now the spaces have been illegally poached by businesses. BMC B Ward officials have swung into action to get things on the right track and in the process, 14 such schools have been identified. What is unfortunate is that even though the BMC has just about begun taking responsible action for the property it leased from the Trusts, the latter will have to bear the brunt of a fee, charged by the BMC for issuance of a No Objection Certificate (NOC), so that they may finally have their premises back.

Back in those days many Trusts came forward and leased out their premises to BMC so that city kids could get affordable education.

Given in Trust and Returned with a Bill!

A high drop out rate forced the BMC to shut down many of its schools over years. Unfortunately, the premises of each of these schools was given to the BMC by Trusts and now the spaces have been poached by businesses illegally. BMC B Ward officials have swung into action to get things on the right track and in the process, 14 such schools have been identified. What is unfortunate is that even though the BMC has just about begun taking responsible action for the property it leased from the Trusts, the latter will themselves have to bear the brunt of a fee, charged by the BMC for issuance of a NOC, so that they may finally have their premises back.

Back in the 1970s, the Bhendi Bazar Marathi Medium School, located near Diamond Jubilee School at Dongri. was shut down for lack of students. Over the years, the vacant structure has become the illegal home to various types of trespassers. On Thursday, in a sweeping operation, B ward Education Officer Snehlata Dumre and Assistant Commissioner Udaykumar Shiroorkar managed to get the premises vacated by all the illegal elements. Scattered packaging material, sweets and dry fruits lying around indicate that the poachers that had been squatting there were small time sweetmeat and dry fruit traders.

AMC Shiroorkar said, “When my education officer first visited the place, it was either locked or they were sent away and so I decided to go myself. When we went there we saw that the place was filled with packaging material, sweets and  dry fruits. We have seized the material and also sealed the premises”

Although the place was rented by the BMC for a nominal charge of Rs 66.95 back in the day, the Trust that gave it to them currently does not have any legal right to rent out the space to anyone else unless the civic body releases it on paper. Speaking about this snag, the Education Officer said, “Back in those days many Trusts came forward and leased out their premises to BMC so that city kids could get affordable education. Now that the place is vacated, the auditor will asses it and as per market value will charge a price that the owner of the property will give to the civic body as per rules.” Following the on paper transaction, the civic body will 'release' the property and issue an NOC for it.

In the case of the Bhendi Bazaar school, the owner did not seek any release of the property and it slowly got occupied illegally for commercial purposes.

This problem was not unique to the premises of the Bhendi Bazar School. The action at this BMC School further revealed 11 more such properties which were earlier used as schools have now been trespassed illegally. “Out of these 11, there is a court case on for two properties. We pay the compensation and the rent charges to the court, after which the rent is given to the owner and the compensation is kept with the court.” said Dumre.

BMC has more plans in place for more properties like the Bhendi Bazaar one.

AMC Shiroorkar said, “We plan to use the retrieved property for our staff members as there is not much space in the current B ward office. We are also fighting to take back our schools from trespassers and put in to some good use.” For now, the newly vacated school has been sealed but unless the civic body finds another good use for the space soon, there is no guarantee that there will be no trespassing in future.

ADC Fun Facts
There are two situations in which BMC schools are vacated. One, if the school building is dilapidated in which case the kids are sent to a nearby school and two if there are less number of students attending the school. In the second case the BMC merges two neighboring schools into one.

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