The 10-storeyed Sundew Apartments on Prabhat Road is in the last lap of opening doors to a bevy of kids in the form of a new English-medium kindergarten (KG) school. The education board of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is engaged in providing final touches to the structure, which has been in the eye of a storm since 1999.
The civic body had taken possession of the controversial apartments for starting a school, in accordance with a Supreme Court order of October 12, 2011. The building was constructed in 1998 by Girish Vyas, son-in-law of former chief minister Manohar Joshi. The building, valued at over Rs 50 crore, belonged to Girish Vyas, son-in-law of Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi – the chief minister during the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party regime. The hullabaloo over the construction on a plot reserved for a primary school had ultimately compelled Joshi to resign.
“In the first phase we are starting a KG school in five classrooms, by converting three 2-BHK flats into five big rooms,” said Pradeep Dhumal, chairman of PMC’s education board.
“The Bhavan department of PMC made available the required funds and is overseeing the renovation. The work is in the final stage of completion and the school will start this week,” he added.
The private contractor appointed by PMC to transform the residential complex into a school building on the condition of anonymity said, “PMC has given me the responsibility of renovating the parking area and the first two floors. Over the past month my employees have been working overnight. The job will be done in the next couple of days.”
“Converting flats in to classrooms is not easy. We have to change the interiors to give the feel of a school. Every flat has a separate balcony and we have increased the height of the railings for the safety of students,” he added. The parking lot of the apartment will be used as a play area for the children. Speaking to MiD DAY, RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, who had fought the Sundew case since 1998 after filing a PIL, said, “Even though it is not binding on PMC education board, being a petitioner they should have at least informed me that a school is finally starting here. I had absolutely no idea about this.”