The Mumbai University is set to issue an eviction notice to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for not following the norms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the university and the association. The move comes in the wake of repeated complaints from the senate and management council members, who alleged that AITA had been conducting private coaching on campus, while disbarring university students and teachers from using the premises.
Officials stated that they had sought legal opinion on the issue to ensure they had a water-tight case before the notice was issued. During the recently concluded senate meeting, senior senate member Pradeep Sawant and Sanjay Shetye asked the university authorities why some private organisations had been given land on the Kalina campus, while the university was facing a space constraint for new projects. The members alleged that AITA, that has been given seven acres on Kalina campus, had been offering private coaching since its inception. Shetye said the land was not benefiting either the university or its students, teachers and employees.
As per the terms of the MoU, AITA would offer coaching and practice to the university students, teachers and employees in return for using a part of the facilities to run private coaching and host tournaments. “The land is being exploited for commercial purposes and hence its existence is questionable. They are not even giving preference to university students, teachers and employees,” Shetye said.
The MoU also required AITA to maintain separate tennis courts built at another location on the campus, but it had failed to do so resulting in the courts being in a bad, unused state and had become a den for anti-social elements, said members. “Miscreants from the nearby slums enter the poorly maintained courts and the area is in a complete mess. We have brought this to the notice of the university authorities officials on several occasions but to no avail,” said Sawant.
Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Rajan Welukar said it was true that AITA had failed to abide by the MoU and had been exploiting it for commercial purposes only. “It is a serious issue and as the university is in need of land for its own expansion and developmental projects, we will ask AITA to vacate the premises,” said Dr Welukar, adding that the notice would be issued soon.
M A Khan, Registrar of MU, said, “ There are several issues and disputes with AITA. At present, one such dispute is about tax. While they are using the land and making a profit, they want the university to pay tax. We have also received complaints that they do not give preference to students, teachers and employees of the university.”
Meanwhile, Bharat Oza, secretary of AITA, called MU’s decision to issue eviction notice as a “political gimmick”. Oza said, “The university has around 234 acres, of which they have given us seven acres. If they are so concerned about space constraint, they should first think of getting the one-third land encroached by slum dwellers evicted. We have followed all the norms stated in the MoU. Apart from our tennis courts, we built four tennis courts worth around 50 lakh for the university, which they ruined and now they blame us. We even agreed to allow the university students to play on our tennis courts. However, due to the pressure from senate members they are seeking legal opinion to evict you.”