More NGOs get notices to vacate rooms in civic schools

Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating from the Petit Municipal School in Bandra (West) received a circular from the civic body asking them to vacate their offices by March 31 on the grounds that the building is dilapidated and in need of repairs.

Though the organisations received the circular at a mandatory one-month’s notice, one of the NGOs claimed that the action is an attempt by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to push non-profit organisations out of their premises in favour of other parties.

“I suspect that the BMC wants to oust non-profit groups from their school buildings so that the land can be used for profit-making purposes, because the school is situated in a prime locality,” said Puja Sukhija, executive director of OASIS, an organisation working towards the environment.

Both OASIS and the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA) have been asked to look for alternate office premises.

The organisations have not yet replied to the circular sent to them, but Anant Raman, the chief executive officer of SOSVA, said, “I think the building needs minor repairs, but not major ones.”

“The BMC sends notices to vacate only when school buildings are extremely dilapidated, and offices are sealed only when the NGOs do not comply,” said Rukmini Kharatmol, chairman of the civic body’s education committee. 

She added that according to a BMC policy decided two years ago, new NGOs are no longer given school rooms on a leave-and-license basis.

“There are many children in need of education and we want to start English medium schools for them, for which we need space.”

On Tuesday, the Hindustan Times had reported that seven NGOs, whose offices in Topiwala Lane municipal school in Grant Road (east) were sealed on Saturday, alleged that the civic body was citing dilapidation as an excuse to oust them.

While a municipal corporation report declared that the school building requires demolition, an independent report by the NGOs stated that the building needs repairs, but not reconstruction.


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