A well-known city school has moved out 450 of its own students to a cramped space in a smaller building and rented out part of its property to a trust to build an international school inside the premises. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the city’s fire department are at loggerheads over whether the Grant Road-based Robert Money Technical School has violated safety norms in reconstructing a part of its old school building.
Local activists have alleged that the school authorities have illegally sold off a portion of the property to an “outsider.” Social activist Cyril Dara has filed a complaint with the Charity Commissioner against the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association (BDTA) and Bombay Diocesan Society (BDS) alleging that the school, which is situated on BDTA property, has sold a portion of the building to the Chanakya Gyan Kendra Trust. The Chanakya Trust is constructing the Edubridge International School by reconstructing a section of the old school building which ,till recently, housed Marathi medium and English medium classes. More than 450 students studied in these classes.
Dara’s petition alleges that due to the sale, the Marathi medium, English medium and Technical junior college classes are now being cramped into one building consisting of 20 rooms. According to Dara, the BDTA has sold the property without taking proper permission from the Charity commissioner and Bombay Diocesan Council members. Meanwhile the city’s Chief Fire Officer, has in a letter to the BMC, pointed out that some alterations in the school building have been done in violation of safety norms. The officer, who inspected the building on March 3, has requested the D and E ward executive engineers to visit the premises to verify the authenticity of the ongoing work in the school.
BMC and BDTA versions
When contacted, BMC’s executive engineer P M Patil, said, “I don’t know which school you are talking about.” PB Amolik, a trustee of BDTA, said, “It is wrong to say that the BDTA has sold the property. The Chanakya Trust is our tenant and we have given them the building on monthly rent.” When asked whether permission was taken from Charity Commissioner before leasing out the property, Amolik said, “Everything is done legally.”
Tenants or owners?
Raman Singh, co-founder and director of Edubridge, Chanakya Trust, said, “The property has not been sold to us. We have only occupancy rights. This agreement doesn’t require the charity commissioner’s permission.”