Saturday, January 3, 2009

After Public Outcry MCD now denies that they had any plans to replace schools with malls!!!

Dear Friends,

After the public outcry, now MCD denies of having any plans ... contrary to the statements of their senior officials including the Chairman of the Education Committee to the media. Chief Minister Dixit writes to the L.G. to intervene.

Here is the link:

Subhash Chandra Vashishth

MCD denies it had any plans to auction schools
Nitin Sethi & Ruhi Bhasin TNN

New Delhi: MCD on Friday sought to deny that it was planning to sell vacant schools for developing malls, banquet halls and shops, but a presentation — ‘Proposal on property development for vacant school premises’ — gives the game away entirely.

As a red-faced MCD brass issues disclaimers, the civic body’s plans are encapsulated in the view “Ideate, develop and suggest creative concept for utilisation of school premises” laid in the presentation, a copy of which is with Times City. The presentation advocates that commercially viable ‘vacant’ schools be sold while those in prime areas be turned into community halls and other non-business centres.

Stung by the premature disclosure of the controversial plan, MCD’s standing committee chairman Vijender Gupta claimed, “MCD has no plans to auction or sell its primary school premises to bolster its finances or for any other reason. The civic body is against auctioning or selling its schools.” Municipal commissioner K S Mehra also denied any such proposal was under consideration.

The denials fly in the face of documents with TOI as well as the statement of the chairman of education committee, Prithvi Raj Sawhney. Sawhney had told TOI on Wednesday, “We have identified 60 schools... while 45 such schools will be used by other departments under MCD... we are planning to auction 15 of them for commercial use since we do not require them.”

Sawhney, in an interview to a Hindi TV channel on Wednesday, also said, “Malls bana sakte hain, shopping centre bana sakte hain, koi bhi commercial activity. Lekin hum sare schools ki baat nahin kar rahe, kuch school bahut chhote hain, un jagah par community centre nahin hain, to who demand ayegi to centre ban sakte hain (Even malls or shopping centres can come up; any commercial activity can take place. But we are not talking of all schools. Some schools are too small, in those places if a demand for community centre arises, we will make them).” Take the 3,158 sq metre primary school in Karampura A Block that MCD wanted to break down. MCD’s internal presentation noted it was closer to commercial areas and easily accessible therefore it should be turned into a centre for retail and offices. On Ajmal Khan Road, a 1,000 sq metre plot school is recommended to be turned into the high-end boutique Gold Souk with multi-storeyed parking lot as there are other small jewellery shops in the neighbourhood. The 2,548 sq metre plot in R K Puram was to become a 3-star guest house with a minimum of three rooms for MCD and a conference hall. MCD’s proposal noted that the project “shall become good revenue generation opportunities for MCD” and “shall be lucrative enough for BOT system”.

The only premises MCD was considering for non-commercial purposes are those which would not fetch much. Such as the school in Karol Bagh that MCD noted was ‘trapped’ by residential properties with a very poor approach so should be turned into a vocational training centre to be adopted by FICCI or other apex trade body. The presentation was made in October 2008 to run these on Build-Operate-Transfer basis. By December, when TOI accessed fresh documents, the list had been expanded, as per MCD officials’ own admission to 60 schools of which 15 would be ready for grabs soon. Meanwhile, the chief minister has written to th L-G asking him to intervene in the matter.

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