Mumbai: Turf war ensues at Dongri building housing schools

Published: Jul 02, 2019, 08:09 IST | Pallavi Smart

Trust running educational institutes in building alleges sports turf on the terrace is a fire hazard, organisation managing it denies allegations, says they are being levelled over personal vendetta

Mumbai: Turf war ensues at Dongri building housing schools
The terrace of the six-floor building has been turned into an artificial sports turf for commercial use. It is managed by Kesar Baug Trust. Pics/ Pradeep Dhivar

An artificial turf built on the terrace of a building in Dongri that houses four educational institutions has allegedly turned into a real fire hazard for 5,000 students of the Habib Ismail Education Trust. On June 18, following a thorough inspection of the structure, the fire brigade submitted an observation report to the BMC pointing out several hazardous conditions at the turf. Kesar Baug Trust, which manages the turf and owns a part of the building, has denied all allegations.

The tussle between Habib Ismail and Kesar Baug trusts has been going on since May 2017. Habib Ismail runs two separate schools for boys and girls, a commerce college and a technical education institute from the first to sixth floor. On the other hand, Kesar Baug operates a commercial hall on the ground floor of the building and a cricket turf on the terrace. While the education institutes operate from 7 am to 7 pm, the turf is open from 5 pm to the wee hours of the morning.

Habib Ismail is now alleging that Kesar Baug’s businesses have put their students in an unsafe position. They have also claimed that there is a smoking zone in the corridor of the sixth floor along with a kitchen to serve food to the customers of the turf.

Exposed to anti-social elements

Javed Shroff, managing trustee of the Habib Ismail Education Trust told mid-day, “Despite the strict regulation against having tobacco-selling shops within a 100-metre radius from any educational institution, there is a designated smoking zone in our school premises. The live kitchen on the top floor is creating a fire hazard, but the smoking zone is just becoming a very bad example on the minds of impressionable youngsters.”

“The Kesar Baug Trust has already been running a commercial hall on the ground floor with some illegal constructions such as toilets and permanent sheds. Now, the turf that is open till the wee hours of the morning has exposed our school to anti-social elements as anyone and everyone can enter to use the turf upon booking it. God forbid if any untoward incident takes place in the premises, we do not even have enough space to mobilize emergency services such as a fire fighting vehicle or an ambulance due to the illegal construction on the ground floor and surrounding area,” he said.

Fire brigade intervenes

On June 15, when the schools reopened, Habib Ismail complained to the fire brigade about the dangers posed by Kesar Baug’s entities. Following the complaint, the fire brigade visited the site and conducted a thorough inspection. It submitted its report to BMC on June 18.

The report states, “It was noticed that eatables had been stored. The doors to the terrace of the building were found locked. Further, the sports turf has been constructed on the entire terrace using GI pipes that are netted on all sides. The seating arrangement [is made] of GI racks, covered with a GI sheet roof on the terrace. Also, the office cabin, pantry, storeroom and washroom were constructed on the terrace. No documents were produced by the authorities concerned regarding the same. Necessary permissions were not provided for the pantry. It is recommended that the terrace area be kept clear and unobstructed for assembling occupants in case of an emergency.”

Speaking to mid-day, H D Parab, deputy fire chief of the south region said, “Following the investigation, we have submitted the report to the civic authorities and asked the parties concerned to comply with the recommendations as soon as possible.”

Kesar Baug says

When mid-day spoke to Ali Shroff, the managing trustee of Kesar Baug Trust, he denied allegations regarding the smoking zone and live kitchen on the terrace. “These are just false allegations levelled by Habib Ismail Education Trust to tarnish the image of Kesar Baug Trust for personal vendetta. We have no smoking zone and there is absolutely no kitchen being operated on the terrace. 

The turf is only covered with a net to ensure the ball doesn’t go down. That net too can be removed anytime if there is any such incident, to allow easy access to the terrace. We are in fact moving civil court on Monday because the fire brigade did not give us any hearing and based its reports on only one side of the story.”

He added, “We have the entire premises under CCTV surveillance. No antisocial activity is happening.” According to Kesar Baug, the sports turf has been built to provide youngsters with a place to play since the locality otherwise has hardly any playgrounds.

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