After a 13-year legal battle, the historical Bhide Wada in Budhwar Peth, which served as India's first school for girls, is set to be redeveloped into a national monument. This significant development comes after the Bombay High Court dismissed a plea filed by tenants who were unwilling to vacate the premises.
The school was founded in Bhide Wada by social reformers Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule in 1848, with an initial enrollment of eight students. However, a legal dispute arose as tenants contested the existence of the school, claiming a lack of evidence. The High Court's verdict now mandates that the tenants surrender the land to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for the construction of the monument.
"With the High Court's decision, the path to construct the monument at Bhide Wada has been cleared. The Pune district collector and municipal commissioner have been instructed to commence the work as soon as possible. This historic building is a symbol of inspiration for women, and the government is committed to developing it as a monument to inspire future generations in the fields of social work and education," stated Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also hailed the High Court's decision, emphasising its significance during the Navratri festival. "This ruling will genuinely strengthen the women's empowerment movement and serve as a global inspiration for the cause," he said.
Maharashtra Minister and former Pune guardian minister, Chandrakant Patil, congratulated the citizens, describing the day as historic for Pune. He shared his continuous efforts to establish Bhide Wada as a national monument.
Former Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol announced the successful conclusion of the 13-year legal battle, paving the way for the PMC to take possession of Bhide Wada and make the dream of a national monument a reality.
Meanwhile, Mukund Kirdat, AAP's Maharashtra spokesperson, urged the Maharashtra government to promptly allocate ₹50 crore for the construction of the national monument at Bhide Wada.
'Monument work to commence soon'
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had initially passed a resolution in 2006 to acquire Bhide Wada and transform it into a memorial. However, this decision encountered strong opposition from the landowners and tenants. Throughout the years, various political parties organised numerous protests and demonstrations in support of establishing a memorial at the site. Despite these efforts, the PMC was unable to proceed with its plans due to the persisting legal issues. Commenting on the court ruling, Pune Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar stated, "Now that the high court has issued its order, the owners cannot stop the project, and we can anticipate that work will commence shortly."