The standing committee of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday instructed the civic administration to probe into the alleged violations by members of Prajapita Brahma Kumari Ishwariy University, which runs an ashram on a portion of a Ghatkopar playground given to the organisation on caretaker basis.
The committee’s instruction came after panel member Rakhi Jadhav, an NCP corporator from the suburb, raised the issue of the Brahma Kumaris running their ashram on part of the Acharya Atre playground in Pant Nagar despite their agreement with the BMC coming to an end 10 years ago and allegations of non-payment of water bills for 14 years and encroachment.
Added to all this is the FIR lodged by the organisation against a 14-year-old boy for allegedly trespassing their ashram premises on Sunday. According to the corporator, the boy, had entred the ashram premises to collect a cricket ball while he was playing on the other portion of the playground.
“The Brahma Kumaris have separated their ashram by constructing a small wall around their centre, making it inaccessible to common people. When the boy went to pick up the ball, he was detained for two-three hours at the ashram. The boy could leave the place only after police turned up. This has just become a habit with the Brahma Kumaris. Hence, the matter must be looked into,” Jadhav said in the meeting and added that the boy's parents have filed a cross-complaint against the outfit for allegedly ‘kidnapping’ the boy.
The corporator demanded that the BMC must probe the violations at the department level and the ground be freed of encroachment for public. “The BMC must act against the violators and take back the land. They have grabbed around 22,000 sq ft of area. If the civic body fails to adhere to our concerns, then the locals will block Eastern Express Highway as protest,” Jadhav added.
Responding to the issue, committee chairman Yashodhar Phanase instructed the municipal administration to probe into the matter.
Meanwhile, Brahma Kumari Harsha, a teacher at the ashram who made the complaint against the boy, claimed the garden in the premises of the centre is accessible to public. “The garden was closed for cleaning when the boy entered the premises. Slowly, the number of children outside the premises grew to 30-40. They were shouting and also pelted stones at us disturbing the peace. So, we called up the police. We did not deter the boy; we just asked him to sit for 20-25 minutes,” Harsha said and added that the issue of non-clearance of property tax and water bills is being discussed with the BMC.
Order to compile report
Standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanase asked the administration to compile a report of number of plots given by BMC on caretaker basis. Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre had demanded action against managers of Dahisar Sports Foundation and the local ward officer (R-North) for allowing ceremonies like wedding at the club built on a municipal plot. Members of the one of the ruling parties, BJP, supported Mhatre. Following this, Phanase ordered the BMC to prepare the report.