The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) court has given a status quo on construction of religious structures like Haj House,Warkari Bhavan and Valmiki Bhavan in the city using PMC funding,following a civil suit challenging the use of civic money for these structures.
Harishchandra Shivram Kondhare (38),Sachindra Hanumant Jadhav (42) and Parshuram Bhimappa Mane (42) – all in private service – had moved the civil court (senior division) through their advocate Bhagyashree Alhat against Pune municipal commissioner and Salim Construction (in whose favour tender was issued on January 2 for construction of the Haj House) against the use of public money for religious structures.
The standing committee of the PMC had allocated Rs 2 crore each for Haj House,Warkari Bhavan and Valmiki Bhavan and had also issued a tender on January 2,2011 for the Haj House in favour of M/s Salim Construction Limited. The trio filed the civil suit after the tender was issued.
The petition lists 25 matters in which the PMC can make adequate provision by means or monetary allocation,which includes public health,education,urban forestry,environment,fire brigade,street lighting,public spaces,roads and so on,except for religious structures,as mentioned in the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act. The resolution of construction of houses for any religious community is not conducive for the general welfare of public at large, the petition stated.
The petition goes on to say that if crores of rupees are available with the corporation (for religious structures),why is there so much apathy in providing basic amenities in the city…such resolutions and advertisements (to construct religious structures) are only politically motivated and at the cost of the residents of Pune,elected representatives are trying to misuse the powers and faith for which they are elected. Securing crores of rupees for construction of houses for various religious functions and activities is contrary to the secular setup of the country.
The proposal to construct the Haj House was also undertaken in 2009,against which a petition was filed in the PMC court. While a status quo was ordered in that matter,it was later suspended as the PMC admitted that it had diverted the funds for road construction. This time,the standing committee has approved the construction and budget has also been allocated for the same, said advocate Alhate.
The PMC court has granted status quo to construction of Haj House and implementation of budget allocation for Warkari Bhavan and Valmiki Bhavan till February 10. Advocate Manjusha Idhate,senior legal adviser (advocate-acting) of the PMC agreed that the status quo has been ordered,but refused to comment.