BMC finally gets its plot back after being vacant for 22 years
In 1994, the Brihanmumbai Municipality Corporation (BMC) leased out a plot in Bandra West for a municipal school for physically challenged children. The 1,751.66- square metre plot was allotted to Bombay Educational Trust (BET), for a rent of Rs 1.7 lakh per annum, and a security deposit of Rs 3.5 lakh.
An official puts up a notice marking the plot as BMC property
It has been lying vacant ever since. On May 7, 2014, mid-day had reported how the local ALM, on the basis of documents procured through RTI Act, had asked the authorities to revoke the agreement and reclaim the plot, given to the trust in an ‘improvement committee resolution’. Today, it is worth over Rs 200 crore. But there is good news.
Waking up from its 22-year-long slumber, civic authorities repossessed the plot last week.
mid-day is in possession of the official BMC documents that claim the process of repossession was initiated around the last week of December 2015. “On April 4 this year, the first notice was put up on the plot that the BMC was the owner of the plot. But we had major security issues as the trust had deployed bouncers, who were obstructing the officials from carrying out their duties. Another delay was due to two unauthorised structures, with separate entrances, that had demolished the compound wall,” said Aftab Siddique, local activist and chairperson of the 33rd Road Khar ALM-144, who obtained the documents under the RTI in 2010.
The first glimmer of hope came when a joint citizen meeting was held with the MLA, BMC and deputy law officer (High Court) on September 16, 2015. “The law officer observed that Bombay Education Trust had neither replied nor challenged to a show-cause notice. The authorities could go ahead with the termination of the lease,” says Siddique.
Then why did the authorities take so long to act, she asked. “The lease agreement clearly stated that the plot, which was handed over to the trust 1994 for the purpose of constructing an education complex could be taken back if no development took place within two years,” she said.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner Sharad Ughade of H-West, said that the action was taken on the basis the instructions received from the Estate Department.
Ex-additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani, who too was instrumental in procuring the plot, said, “What I could not do in my tenure has now been completed two years after my retirement.”