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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Borivali resident goes on hunger strike

Kamath is protesting against BMC’s failure to comply with HC order to start work on plots reserved for school

She doesn’t have the political clout of Mamata Banerjee, but Borivali resident Meera Kamath has been staging a hunger strike for the past four days against what she calls “commercial use” of public property.

Kamath is protesting against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) failure to comply with the Bombay High Court orders to get the work started on two plots reserved for a higher secondary school and a playground in Borivali.

“I am going to fight till the issue is sorted out. Even after the BMC was given the plots to construct a school and a playground, members of the gaothan continued to occupy the place. It is only after I went on hunger strike that the BMC demolished the shed and opened it for public. It is a public space and should be put to use for the public,” said Kamath.

In 1994, Kamath had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) to ensure that the plots in Shimpoli allotted for the construction of a secondary school building and a playground was not taken over by a local club. The court had observed that the reserved plots were being used by a club to run their services, thus encroaching upon public property.

In an attempt to appease the electorate, the newly elected corporators of the area met Kamath and assured her that they would do everything possible to resolve the issue.

“I assured Kamath that we will take up the matter in BMC and also with the government, if required,” said Sarika Gracias, a corporator from Ward no 44.

“We will not allow anyone to bend laws. We will support her cause by raising the issue in the BMC,” said Vidya Chauhan, activist and NCP leader as she requested Kamath to back out of the strike.

The BMC in their defence said that they have followed the court’s order and had taken over the plot from the club. “She has now called off the strike. As far as the ward is concerned, the encroachments have been removed and the possession of the plot has been given to the BMC. The action will be taken in case there is a violation of the court’s order,” said Vishwas Shankarwar, ward officer of R/Central.

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