Even as the BMC has been issuing notices to some of its tenants asking them to vacate classrooms rented in civic school buildings, an employees’ union affiliated to the Shiv Sena and an employment wing of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) continue to operate from the classrooms of a BMC school building located in Dadar, despite receiving notices from the BMC six months ago.
The BMC had last year issued notices to 98 organisations which have occupied 628 classrooms in over 100 civic schools across the city, asking them to vacate the premises at the earliest as they were carrying out non-educational activities.
While some of the premises were used for commercial purposes, such as dance classes, drama rehearsals and yoga classes, others served as union offices of political parties. Unions such as the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, Municipal Karmachari Kamgar Sena, BEST Kamgar Sena, Vahatuk Sena (all affiliated to the Shiv Sena), Shiv Udyog Sena (affiliated to the MNS) and Rashtriya Mazdoor Union, to name a few, occupied classrooms in civic schools.
The Municipal Karmachari Kamgar Sena, a BMC employees’ union that has been occupying a classroom in the Gokhale Road (South) municipal school in Dadar (West) for the past year, has not budged from the premises despite receiving two notices from the BMC.
Baba Kadam, president of the Municipal Karmachari Kamgar Sena said, “We work for the rights of BMC employees. So, it is not illegal to occupy the office… and neither are we conducting any activity for profit. The civic body had issued two notices, the first one six months ago, and the second one a month later. We then discussed the matter with the members of our union and approached Mayor Sunil Prabhu to resolve the issue. Hence, now we are not under pressure to vacate the room.” The union is affiliated to the Shiv Sena, a major ruling party in the BMC. Mayor Sunil Prabhu was unavailable for comment.
Similarly, the Shiv Udyog Sena, affiliated to the MNS, uses three classrooms at Gokhale Road municipal school in Dadar, and has refused to vacate them despite notices from the BMC.
Yashwant Killedar, chairman of the Shiv Udyog Sena said, “Our organisation is recognised by the state government. We help students get education loans and also guide them for further studies and employment-related issues.”
Manoj Kotak, chairman of the civic education committee said, “I will have to first verify what exactly the case at Gokhale road municipal school is, and only then will I be in a position to comment. As of now, I am not fully aware of the situation.”
The BMC had started allotting classrooms on rental basis eight years ago, as they were lying unused due to diminishing number of students. However, the rent varied depending how long the premises was to be used and for what purpose.
The BMC’s education department, however, has now decided to take back all classrooms that were given for non-educational purposes. It was prompted to spring into action after being pulled up by the municipal auditor in the BMC’s audit report last year for not collecting rent on time.
BMC has now said it wants to use these rooms to set up reading rooms, libraries and virtual classrooms. “Henceforth, we will not allow any non-educational activity inside school premises, as we have started using the premises for setting up facilities for BMC school students,” said Kotak.