Mumbai: Mankhurd school endangers more than 500 students with illegal electricity supply
Residents allege that the school has put them and the students in danger with wires running through the wall
A private school in Mankhurd West has put the lives of more than 500 students in danger with an illegal electricity supply. Not only has the school management been stealing power for over two years, but they have done this with wires illegally running through the school walls, posing threat of a deadly fire in case of a short circuit.
The school is situated on the ground floor of building 80 in Saptsangham Co-operative Housing Society
Royal Public Academy and Junior College is situated on the ground floor of Saptsangham Co-operative Housing Society building number 80. The school has been stealing from the building's common power supply since its establishment in April 1, 2015. On this illegal supply, the school runs 10 air-conditioned classrooms spread across 10 shop spaces.
The connection is through wires that run through the school's walls, posing danger to students and residents
Suryakant Ashok Mada, a resident of the building and local ward vice-president for the MNS, alleged that since the school opened, the residents' electricity bills have doubled. "The school has taken electricity from the meter boxes just adjoining the gate. The school has more than 500 students in two batches — morning and afternoon. The illegal wire passes through the school wall," he said.
No action taken
Despite complaints by residents and local activists, no action has been taken against the school. Some allege this is because a policeman is involved. Locals have pointed the finger of suspicion at the former chairman of the building society, Constable Nandu Bhingardevi, who was earlier posted at Mankhurd police station. He is currently posted at Ghatkopar. Sources from the building claim that before the school opened, the society had suggested that the management get a new electricity meter installed. "But Bhingardevi refused," said a resident.
Bhingardevi has also been accused of embezzling the rent that the school was supposed to pay to the society. One of the residents said, "The school owes the society `42 lakh in rent. They only paid a rent of `18 lakh, but Bhingardevi and the committee never gave this money to us. Being a cop, Bhingardevi would threaten people, so no one dared to take action." On August 7, MHADA disqualified Bhingardevi and the rest of the committee on grounds of cheating. Even now, however, the electricity company, Reliance seems unwilling to take action.
On October 31, Mahendra Shingare, ward president for the MNS, gave a complaint to the Mankhurd police station, Reliance Energy and the Maharashtra Electricity Regulation Commission (MERC). "Till date, no action has been taken by the authorities. Reliance officials are dragging their feet, stating that they will take action soon," he said. Shingare added, "They are playing with the lives of schoolchildren. At any time, a short circuit can lead to a big mishap."
The other side
Despite repeated attempts to contact Imran Azmi, the school founder, he was unavailable for comment. His assistant, Kalyan Sathe, said, "I work in the school, but am not aware of the matter." Constable Nandu Bhingardevi said, "This was not done by me alone. Everything was done in front of the society members; it was benefiting the society. There was no personal interest from my side."
Sanjay Vernekar, senior PI, Mankhurd police station, said, "We have received a complaint letter about the illegality. But the electricity is supplied by Reliance, and we can't intervene unless the company approaches us."
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