In an apparent U-turn,the Army on Wednesday dashed the hopes of Poona Womens Council (PWC) School asking it to relocate to their own premises. The PWC was hoping the Army would offer another location for the school that teaches special children.
In a meeting on Wednesday morning the Local Military Authority (LMA) the Pune Sub Area reportedly told PWC to shift from 5A Rajendrasinhji Road.
The Army had in fact set March 31 as the deadline to vacate the premises,citing it was on A-1 defence land.
The PWC had been hoping the matter would be considered compassionately and until last week,the LMA had apparently given the impression they would view the matter sympathetically.
PWC president Rakhi Shetty,said PWC had expected a positive response in Wednesdays meeting and were shocked at being told to shift out.
We were told we would be given an alternate location. We were not given that option. We were told the school there will have to be shut. They (Army authorities) told us point blank no alternate location will be offered.
PWC has sought an appointment with Army Commander Lt Gen Ashok Singh hoping he would give special consideration to the school where about 35 special children are taught.
The Army stand is also in contrast with a statement they issued on March 20 that LMA is considering the issue with compassion rather than strictly legal terms. Army authorities have offered an alternate site to PWC to relocate. LMA is working with PWC to work out a mutually feasible solution. Policy does not permit usage of A-1 defence land for non-military purposes. Moreover,the property is required by military authorities for its own usage.
In an official communication to PWC,HQ,the Pune Sub Area had on March 14 said,It is intimated that this HQ is under no obligation to provide accommodation to you. As a goodwill gesture,the HQ is facilitating you to shift to an alternate accommodation.
The same letter had said there may be inconvenience in shifting the school to its own premises at 20 Kahun Road.
As reported first by The Indian Express on October 9,PWC had been occupying the said land for almost 89 years. A home to 35 special children from nearby localities,the school pays a monthly rent of Rs 7,850 for the premises,though they claim the portion occupied by the PWC is only 15,000 sq ft and not 5.38 acre as recorded by the DEO. It was in January 2012 that LMA first noticed the land on which PWC is located is A-1 defence land.
The PWC hopes are also hinged on MP Supriya Sule,who they claim has been taking special interest in the matter. PWC members had also met Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma on March 28 in New Delhi.
He promised us he will intervene. We are hoping Sule,Sharma and the Army Commander Lt Gen Ashok Singh will help, Shetty said. A reply from the Army authorities pertaining to Wednesdays meeting is awaited.