The safety of 200 pre-primary students of Kid's Land Pre-school in Kandivli now hangs in the balance after the BMC's R-South ward carried out a demolition of an illegal extended wall on that used to give the students outdoor space.
The school area comprises of 4 shops on the ground floor of a building in Kum Kum society in Charkop, with an extension in the front leading up to the gate. The civic body took the action on Monday, after the residents of the society complained that the open space of the society was being impinged upon by the school.
The society had initially complained about its open space being taken up by shop owner Mukesh Savla who runs the pre-primary school and uses the space exclusively. The BMC's R-South ward first sent an order to Savla in June to remove the illegal structure within 15 days, failing which they would carry out a demolition.
Mukesh Savla, principal of the school and proprietor said, “The school has been run on the same premises since 1995, but no one objected till last year.
Society members started asking me to remove the walls of the school's open space or pay a penalty of Rs 10,000, which is illegal. I tried to convince them that the wall was built for the security of the children, as the society gate is behind the school. However, the society went ahead and complained to the BMC who demolished my wall on Monday during school hours.”
The move by the civic body received strong reactions from parents of students at the school. Yusuf Sheikh, a parent said, “We were helplessly watching the BMC demolishing our children's school wall.
We don’t understand why the society didn’t object to the wall in the last 15 years and why the demolition was done all of a sudden this year. Now the parents are concerned for the security of their children.”
Another angry parent, Sachin Ghag said, “My daughter is three years old and was inside the school when the demolition happened. My question is, was it a restaurant bar that was making money, or was there any wrong activity happening that they demolished the walls that were protecting the children? If BMC finds the protection walls for our children illegal, they should go around the area and demolish everything that is illegal.”
Pre-primary students at the school pay fees of Rs 20,000 annually. The school has been running on the society premises since 1995. Std I to IV in the four shops started in 2001. While pre-primary comprises of 250 students, Std I to IV have 375 students.
Sanjog Kabre, ward officer of R-south ward, said, “The demolition was done as the society complained that the wall was built illegally by the shop owner. If the shop owner had gone with the revised plan of their society and asked for approval from the building proposal department, the demolition could have been avoided. The demolition that took place was with prior intimation.”
The other side
Nancy Khajanchi, society chairman, said, “The number of cars (in the society) are increasing and there is no space for us to park. The demolition that occurred was done legally by the BMC. We gave Savla the chance to renounce ownership of the open space as it was not his to use exclusively. However, he ignored our pleas and continued to use the open space for his school.”
Rajesh Gor, committee member and ex-secretary of the society, said, “Savla can use the open space in front of his shops, but he cannot enclose the open space by walls illegally and use the premises exclusively for himself. Savla assured us that he would demolish the wall himself, but he didn’t do so. Work on a new society gate had started fifteen days back, which we are bringing forward.”