Almost 24 years after a plot was sanctioned to the Poona Blind Men’s Association (PBMA) for a primary health centre, as well as to build a residential facility for the visually impaired, a notice has been issued by the district collectorate to the PBMA after a group representing the visually impaired alleged that there was violation of land use. The case before the Pune District collector will be heard on May 11.
In a complaint registered by Anil Khurana and others, it has been alleged that the land in Sector 93/2 in Mauje Mohammadwadi, measuring two hectares awarded to the PBMA, was for residential purpose but it had been operating a commercial hospital on the plot. The Haveli tehsil office has given a report of “violation of land use”.
A notice issued by the Haveli tehsil office stated that after reviewing the site, it was seen that the present area housed the HV Desai hospital with a huge parking lot. The details given in the note of the tehsil office stated that there were three buildings in the area, besides the parking space.
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The collectorate has stated that despite sending several letters asking for the building permissions, the PBMA had not replied. The circle officer, however, in his report, after inspecting the site and the buildings, reported that the buildings were constructed in 2004 and registered under charity commissioner office.
Khurana, who is partially visually impaired, said he had approached the revenue minister, apart from visiting the collectorate’s office, on the issue. “With a huge population of visually impaired living and begging on streets and sleeping on railway platforms, it is imperative to provide them accommodation. When land was allotted, the order clearly stated that it was granted by the collector S D to the Poona Blind Men’s Association in 1991 for the purpose of construction of building blind men’s residential buildings, primary health centre and its ancillary activities free of occupancy price and free of revenue. The terms and conditions clearly mentioned that the land should be fully used for the purpose for which it was granted within a period of two years,’’ said Khurana, who staged several protest against the alleged misuse of land.
His colleague, Ramchandra Rangole, said, “The hospital is being used for commercial purposes and not for what it was meant for. After several meetings, the district administration accepted that there is misuse and the hearing for the same is to be conducted. We were issued a date of May 5 but it was later postponed to May 11.”
PBMA president N P Pandya, however, said the demand to have a housing colony for the blind was not practical as it would isolate the visually impaired. “If there are 5,000 people, we cannot have a separate colony for them,’’ he said, stating that they had taken all the necessary permissions and would put forward their case on the day of hearing. “We have an eye hospital where people from across the state visit. Several operations are conducted for free. A few people with vested interest are levelling such baseless allegations,’’ he said when asked about the alleged misuse of land. He added that at present they had already built 1.10 lakh sq ft with three buildings and were on an expansion mode. “We will require more land for our work and will put forward the request during the hearing on May 11,’’ Pandya added.