Mumbai: Charity chief seeks probe into closure of Grant Road school
Each time, the administration spoke of closing the school, but continued to operate after protests by parents and locals. However, 2016-17 was the last year it functioned, finally closing its doors in 2017-18
The charity commissioner has asked Mumbai police to conduct an inquiry into the abrupt closure of the 180-year-old Robert Money School at Grant Road. The school was run by a charitable trust offering affordable education, and has now been replaced by an international school with comparatively exorbitant fees. While activists have alleged that the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association leased the school plot illegally, the trustees claim it is all above board.
The school had been under a cloud for the past few years, after it started shutting down one class each year by stopping admissions. Each time, the administration spoke of closing the school, but continued to operate after protests by parents and locals. However, 2016-17 was the last year it functioned, finally closing its doors in 2017-18.
The charity commissioner's request for an investigation follows a complaint by the Christian Reform United People Association, which has been fighting to keep the school running since 2013. Cyril Dara, secretary of the association, said, "This school has been here for around 180 years. It was also the first technical school in Maharashtra in the 1950s, at which time the state government had allotted considerable grants to the trust. Moreover, the school was named after the then education secretary, to provide affordable quality education to local children. Now, the trust has handed over the land to a third party to run a new school."
Melwyn Fernandes, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, Mumbai, said, "Portuguese and British settlers had donated land to the Christian community to set up educational and religious institutions. The police should take action against culprits for illegal dealings of the school plot."
On the other hand, Rev. Amolik, secretary of the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association, said, "The school shut down gradually because there was no demand and the number of students taking admission kept dropping. Now another school is running there. There is absolutely no irregularity, as the transfer was done following all regularities and was registered at the collector's office. Some people with vested interests are maligning the trust."
Pandharinath Patil, Inspector (Crime) from D B Marg police station, said, "We have not received any intimation on the matter yet. Once we do, we will see what needs to be done. However, since it is about a transfer between schools, the education department should look into it and then file a formal complaint."
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