Country’s first girls’ school continues to face govt neglect

Legal battle over relocation of affected parties gets delayed as government pleader ‘skips’ hearings.

Written by PRASAD JOSHI | Pune | Published:January 3, 2014 4:16 am

Come January 3 and politicians will flock to the city to pay rich tribute to Savitribai Phule at the social reformer’s residence in Ganj Peth like they have been doing every year for Phule’s birth anniversary.

And like every year,no one will give anything more than sympathy to the dilapidated and deteriorating state of the first girls’ school in the country,which was started by Phule with help from her husband and social reformer Mahatma Phule at Bhide Wada,more than 150 years ago in 1848.

The hollow promises of the state government and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has not resulted in anything tangible and the two-storey historic structure in front of famous Dagdusheth Temple continues to be in a dilapidated state.

While efforts to restore the school set up by Phule,also known as ‘Kranti Shala’,has been under way at a tardy pace since 1998,the plan to turn it into a special memorial,hit a major roadblock when the citizens and shopkeepers housed in school approached the court against the decision four years ago.

The urban development department and PMC among others were made party in the case,the government pleader in the matter has not attended most of the hearings of the case held in past.

Special land acquisition officer number 15,SH Mundhe-Jadhavar said it would be ensured the government has proper legal representation in the court during the forthcoming hearing. The officer avoided further queries maintaining that she took charge of her office only a few weeks ago. “The revenue department has been ready with the judgement on acquiring desired land in at Bhide Wada,but the court had issued stay order on releasing the same,” she said.

Neeta Hole,descendant of the Phule couple,said,“I am doubtful whether the Kranti Shala will survive the next monsoon season,” she said. Hole,who had been pursuing the demand for restoration of Kranit Shala and Bhide Wada in its entirety with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,said Chavan had assured relocation of citizens and shopkeepers housed in Wada within three months after holding talks with them. She had met the CM in September 2012.

Social activist Nitin Pawar,who has been also following the issue of Phule memorial at Bhide Wada,said an agitation would be launched if the government fails to keep its promises. “It is ironical that the historic structure like Kranti Shala has been crying for government attention. Phule has been an icon for the whole country for her pioneering efforts towards women education,but the place of genesis of her work is facing gross neglect,” she said.

Mayor Chanchala Kodre said PMC would ensure all possible efforts to raise Phule memorial at Bhide Wada once the ongoing legal battle gets over. “We had offered shopkeepers and other affected parties in Bhide Wada an alternate place for their shops,but they denied it ,and went to the court. We hope the things will fall in place in soon and area of around 2,800 sq ft of Bhide Wada will don a new look,” she said.

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