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Film school invites applications despite eviction order

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 - 6:50am IST | Agency: dna

Whistling Woods International School, one of the leading film schools in the city, has invited applications for admission to all courses, despite the July 2014 deadline for it to vacate its campus in the Filmcity complex in Goregaon (east). It claims the school will start functioning from an alternate venue.

Institute chairman and noted film-maker Subhash Ghai said courses would not be affected as the management had found an alternate venue in Mukta Arts Studios, situated close to the school campus.

In 2012, the Supreme Court directed Ghai to return the land on which the institute is situated to the Maharashtra government as there were irregularities in land allotment.

"Firstly, we have filed a review petition against the SC order and are hopeful of a favourable ruling. However, in the worst-case scenario, we have made alternate arrangements for ensuring that school courses and students are not disturbed in anyway," Ghai told dna on Monday.

Trouble started for Whistling Woods started in 2003 when Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) raised questions over the land worth Rs 31.20 crore being allotted to it for just Rs 3 crore. Based on this, in 2004, the Bombay high court noted: the government is "desirous of shifting from a joint venture to a lease model."

Following this, the Maharashtra government asked Whistling Woods not to develop the 14.5 acres (of the allotted 20 acres) of land where the hostel and studio were to come up.

For Ghai, the problems was compounded when in 2009 a public interest litigation challenged the land allocation, alleging impropriety. Following this, in 2011, a steering committee was set up to suggest terms to according to which Whistling Woods could be changed from a joint venture to a rental model.

However, before the committee could decide anything, the high court ruled against Whistling Woods. It directed the school to return the unused 14.5 acres as well as vacate the rest by July 31, 2014. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the decision. The review petition was filed by Mukta Arts in the HC in the same year, and it's pending.

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