The population of the city is increasing, but are municipal schools increasing or decreasing in comparison? The question was posed by the Bombay high court on Thursday while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging closure of an Urdu medium school run by the municipal corporation in Pydhonie.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Kathawala has asked the BMC to furnish a list of vernacular schools currently run by the corporation and those that have been shut down, by February 3, 2011.
Mirza Naheed Baig, a social worker from the area, filed a PIL in 2008, challenging closure of municipal schools alleging that instead of running schools, the BMC was allowing school buildings to be converted into commercial or residential structures.
AN Mulla, advocate for the petitioner, argued that BMC was shutting down schools citing less attendance. On the contrary, the population in the areas where municipal schools operate have increased and hence there is more demand for municipal schools, Mulla argued.
The BMC Act considers education an important aspect and it is incumbent upon the them to make adequate provisions for maintaining, aiding and accommodating schools for primary education, the PIL adds.
The PIL alleges that the BMC collects crores from trusts that runs these schools to surrender tenancy rights. The PIL cited the example of a school in Pydhonie, which was allegedly demolished in 1989. Priti Purandare, advocate for BMC, argued that the building was demolished as it was in dilapidated condition. And, students were shifted to another school building, Purandare said.