At a time when expensive, long-drawn legal battles to retain tenancy rights over prime property are common, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems happy relinquishing its hold. The civic body has given up a 2,000-sq foot property in Dadar where it was running a Hindi medium school for the past 45 years.
The owner of Irani Chawl, Dadar, had moved the court asking for orders to the BMC to vacate the property. When the matter came up for hearing in January, the civic body chose not to present its side before the court, effectively handing the property back to its owner. Worse, it chose not appeal the verdict in the high court despite having 90 days to do so.
Last week, following a court order, the school was finally shut down. The 132 students who studied there were shifted to another school in Prabhadevi. The school at Dadar had 10 classrooms spread over 2,000 sq feet. Going by prevailing land rate in the area, which is roughly Rs25,000 per square foot, the cost of the land vacated by the BMC is Rs5 crore.
“The owner might be thinking of redeveloping the chawl and the BMC school was one of the biggest obstacles. Officials from education and law department were hand-in-glove with the owner and purposely lost the case,” alleged Sandip Deshpande, MNS corporator from Dadar. MNS corporators alleged that the administration was assisting the closure of civic schools to benefit private developers.
Arvind Hire, deputy municipal commissioner (education), said the civic body would appeal in the high court. “The law department was in the process of finalising papers to file an appeal in the high court. Today, we have moved the court and our matter will now be heard on Monday,” Hire said.
Ravishankar Malandkar, law officer of the BMC, could not be reached despite repeated attempts, while Rashida Rehman, deputy law officer claimed she had no knowledge of the case.