Mumbai: Hotel staff use defunct school as rest quarters

Mumbai: This is an example of a landlord giving land for running a school to the BMC, which has refused to maintain it, leaving it in a shambles; ironically, the landlord – a prominent hotelier — is using a part of the school premises as a rest quarter for its staff.For the last 10 years, a civic-run school behind Pritam Hotel, Dadar (East), has been shut due to a land dispute. Yet BMC has been paying rent for this land on which the defunct school building is located. Worse still, it has a classroom facility and space for students, but is in a dilapidated condition.

When this reporter visited the school site on Tuesday, there was no electricity, the classrooms were dark, filled with cobwebs, and layers of dust that had accumulated over a decade. The doors of the classroom were locked while three rooms were being used as accommodation by Pritam Hotel staff. The staff rest here since the plot belongs to the owners of the restaurant.This school was initially Marathi medium and later civic authorities began Urdu classes, too; in all, there were eight classrooms catering to 29 students.

The school was constructed on land that belongs to Pritam Hotel, a well-known restaurant in Dadar. This land was given to BMC on lease to run the school in order to create an education facility for students living in nearby areas.  The civic body claimed that the school was shut down due to lack of students; however, the BMC continues to  pay rent for this land. In addition, a case has been filed in the Bombay High Court. Surendra Singh, a member of education committee, said, “This school has been shut for many years, but the corporation is paying rent.

We are also bearing expenses for this case and the court fees. Why is the civic body not repairing the school building or using it for any other educational or recreational purpose?”

Authorities of Pritam Hotel claimed that they are using a few classrooms for their own purpose since the civic authority has not bothered to take any measures to restart the school. D B Singh, the estate manager of Pritam Hotel, said, “The school building is dilapidated and unsafe for children. We had given the land on rent to the BMC long ago but they shut down the school claiming there were insufficient number of students.”

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