A DAY after the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) “demolished” four of the 13 Amul parlours located at Alkapuri, Badamadi Baug, Khanderao Market and the Vadodara Railway Station on Sunday, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) is at loggerheads with the civic body and has moved the High Court to seek a stay on further demolition of parlours. The VMC has been directed by the court to file a reply to the petition by April 24.
On Monday, the GCMMF issued a statement, claiming, “On April 9, 2017, without any prior notice or intimation, four parlours were demolished by the VMC. It has not only resulted in a loss of Rs 40 lakhs to the farmers of Gujarat but also caused inconvenience to the residents of Vadodara.”
The GCMMF claimed that similar to the arrangement with the Corporations of Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot, the VMC too, after due resolutions in their committees, had assigned 18 sites to GCMMF for the construction of Amul parlours in August 2015, after which the necessary advance deposits were made. “The sites were surveyed by designated officials and after due verification, a possession letter was issued to commence the construction.”
However, the VMC maintains that the parlours — one of which is located on VMC’s own premises — were illegal and came up without building permissions.
Municipal Commissioner Vinod Rao said that a meeting was called on April 8 — a day before the demolition—with Amul officials, who were told about the irregularities in the structure. They were given a week’s time to demolish the same. “We held a meeting with the Amul officials. The GCMMF’s statement is gross misrepresentation of facts involving criminal breach of trust. Amul parlours were constructed without any building permission on VMC premises, including heritage structures, green spaces and road-line. No formal agreement was signed. Many conditions of allotment were violated. This was agreed upon by the Amul officials during a meeting on April 8. They agreed to remove the structures on their own to avoid confrontation with the VMC. All four shops were vacated by the franchisees on their own following instructions from the Amul officials, and not the VMC.”
According to Rao, shops were sub-let to franchisees without the permission of VMC. Asked how the parlours, especially the one standing on the VMC premises, were allowed to be constructed and operational without a building permission, Rao said, “I am as surprised as you.”
The issue raised a debate among political circles, especially since many leaders believed that the allotments of franchises for the parlours were made at the behest of Akota MLA Saurabh Patel. Last week, during a press conference, Patel clarified that he had nothing to do with the allotments. In a statement, Patel said, “I made no representation to allot these parlours to any particular person. The administration has executed the project after following its procedures. If any irregularities are found, action must be taken against the officer concerned.”
A senior BJP leader said, “If the VMC has decided to demolish it, they should initiate action against those officers who allowed these structures to come up.”
The VMC shared a letter undersigned by two franchise owners — Ulhas Kulabkar and Mansi Kulabkar — stating, “It was decided in the meeting (April 8), that due to serious procedural lapses on part of Amul, including not obtaining the required building permissions and other licenses, Amul on its own would discontinue the parlours and remove the unauthorised structures, within a period of one week.”
Dismissing the claim, R S Sodhi, MD of GCMMF, said, “The VMC has not given us a notice for this demolition. It has an agreement with the GCMMF not with the franchise owners. The notice should have come to the GCMMF. We have all the documents of this allotment made by the civic body… We have paid a year’s rent amounting to Rs 1 lakh per parlour, and paid the second year’s rent in advance.”
Meanwhile, Justice RM Chhaya of the Gujarat HC has passed an interim order directing the parties to maintain status-quo and has thus, stayed demolition of the remaining nine parlours.