The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has recently issued notices to 98 organisations, which have occupied 628 classrooms in over 100 civic schools across the city, to vacate the premises at the earliest for carrying out non-educational activities at the venues.
While few of these premises were used for commercial purposes where dance classes, drama rehearsals and yoga classes were held, others served as union offices of political parties. Unions such as Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, Municipal Karmachari Kamgar Sena, BEST Kamgar Sena, Vahatuk Sena (all affiliated with Shiv Sena), Shiv Udyog Sena (affiliated with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Rashtriya Mazdoor Union, to name a few, occupied the classrooms in civic schools.
The BMC had started allotting classrooms eight years ago on a rental basis as they were lying unused due to diminishing number of students. The rent varied depending on the time frame for which the venue was used.
The BMC’s education department, however, has now decided to take back all classrooms that were given for non-educational purpose. It was prompted to spring into action after the municipal auditor slammed it in the BMC’s latest Audit Report for not collecting rent on time. “Henceforth, we will not allow any non-education activity inside the school premises,” said Manoj Kotak, chairman of the civic Education Committee.
Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner, said the BMC will hold its ground on the issue. “We will force people to vacate the classrooms if they refuse to cooperate with us.” However, the people using these classrooms have refused to budge. In fact, they said they were carrying out education-related activities in the premises. Baba Kadam, president of the Municipal Karmachari Kamgar Sena that received notice in the first week of this month for occupying Gokhale Road (South) municipal school in Dadar West, said, “We work for the rights of BMC employees. So it is not illegal to occupy the office.” He added that he would meet Mayor Sunil Prabhu to resolve the issue. The union is affiliated with the Shiv Sena, a major ruling party in the BMC.
Likewise, Yashwant Killedar of Shiv Udyog Sena, which is affiliated with MNS and uses three classrooms in the Gokhale Road Municipal School (Dadar), told SUNDAY MiD DAY, “Our organisation is recognised by the state government. We help students get loans and also assist them in charting out their future plans.” Killedar and Kadam claimed that they have replied to the education department’s notice. Killedar also demanded that the BMC should thoroughly inspect all classrooms before sending notice.