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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Civic body locks 7 NGOs out of ‘unsafe’ building

Aarefa Johari, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, February 08, 2011
First Published: 01:36 IST(8/2/2011) | Last Updated: 01:38 IST(8/2/2011)

Seven non-government organisations have been locked out of their offices after the civic body sealed their offices in a municipal school building in Grant Road (East) on Saturday.

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Salaam Balak, Comet Media Foundation, Granthali and Sankalp are among the NGOs whose offices are in the building.

The organisations and three government offices housed in the Topiwala Lane Municipal School building were served a 24-hour notice by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) before it was sealed.

The NGOs claimed that they have not been provided an alternate office space. In March 2010, the civic body had issued an eviction notice to the organisations, declaring the building to be unsafe. However, some of the NGOs have alleged foul play and claim that the civic body deliberately ignored their repair pleas since June 2009.

An October 2009 report by Messrs Shashank Mehandale & Associates, commissioned by the civic body, recommends demolition of the building because it was not safe. “We have reasons to believe that this report was commissioned with the motive of thwarting the repair work and using dilapidation as an excuse to vacate the premises to favour an unknown third party,” said Chandita Mukherjee, spokesperson of the Comet Media Foundation, which has an office in the building for 22 years.

In April 2010, the NGOs commissioned their own audit of the building by a BMC authorised firm, Messrs Rehab Consultants Pvt. Ltd, and also consulted structural engineer Shirish Patel.

Both their reports, said Mukherjee, said the building was in need of urgent repairs but is not so dilapidated as to require complete demolition.

While two NGOs, Dignity Foundation and EAR Society, have moved the city civil court for a stay order, the others have written to the municipal commissioner. “As we are an educational organisation working with the BMC, they should provide us with an alternate space,” said Dinaz Strafford, co-founder of Salaam Balak.


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