For many, the St Anthony’s Institute Sports Academy (SAISA) at Bandra (West) comes as a respite from the hectic pace of the city allowing youngsters to put their worries away, come out and play. However, for the last four days, the members have been unable to play basketball and tennis at the club after the suburban district collector demolished a wall owing to a property tussle.
Parents of several children who are a part of the club located at Pali Naka, Bandra (West) said that they were unable to play after a wall adjoining the tennis and basketball courts had been demolished by the suburban district collector on Friday.
The parents and other members alleged that the debris from the broken wall continues to remain on the courts making it impossible for them to play on the grounds. “We can’t play tennis as the fencing that kept people from straying onto the courts is broken and now they walk as they please,” said a SAISA member. Several members of SAISA also held a meet yesterday at the club to protest against the tearing down of the wall.
Secretary of SAISA Kenneth Drego said, “The only people who suffer because of this are the children who enjoy playing sports. We had hoped for a positive response to the notice that the collector had sent us. But, the officers still came and broke the fencing.”
Joaquim Carvalho, ex-India hockey coach and a member of SAISA lamented the situation. “This is not good for the growth of sports. More importance needs to be given to sports and closing down open spaces is not encouraging,” he said.
The duel between SAISA and the suburban district collector began over 446 sq metre of the 2,110 sq metre plot that belongs to the suburban district collector.
Explaining the demolition, Sanjay Deshmukh, suburban district collector, said, “This is our land and by tearing down the wall, we have taken possession of our land.”
He added that the land had been leased out to St Anthony’s school, which shut down in 2006 and after the club came up, the playground was fenced and tennis courts built on
it, which was not allowed by them.
“We have taken possession of our land, and we don’t want any fencing as it is supposed to be an open space,” Deshmukh added.