Delegation comprised of: 1. Fr. Austin Norris, Parish Priest, St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani. 2. Fr. Gerald Fernandes, Parish Priest, OL of Assumption Church, Kandivali (W), 3. Dolphy D’souza, 4. Prashant Pereira, 5. Adv. Godfrey Pimenta, 6. Stanley Fernandes 7. Greg Pereira 8. Lennon Miranda 9. Gordon D’souza 10. Fredric Gracias, 11. Joaquim Colaco.
“SAVE OUR LAND” – COMMITTEE
– DEDICATED INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Re: SOUL Team delegation along with Mr. Julio Rebeiro meets with Mr. Sitaram Kunte, the Municipal Commissioner today, December 20 to discuss the issues listed below.
A memorandum [copy enclosed] was handed over to the Municipal Commissioner along with the first lot of 30,000 signatures.
Mr. Julio Rebeiro thanked the Municipal Commissioner for giving us the audience. Mr. Rebeiro stated that normally he does not get involved in sectarian issues. However he stated that in these cases he sees gross injustice being done to the Christian community as they are normally considered as soft targets.
Mr. Rebeiro than requested Mr. Dolphy Dsouza, Spokesperson of the SOUL Team to take over.
Mr. Dolphy D’souza thanked Mr. Julio Rebeiro and Mr. Sudhir Naik
, DMC for arranging this appointment. He also thanked the Municipal Commissioner for his time to listen to our issues. He appealed to the Municipal Commissioner to intervene in these matters and resolve them positively for the benefit of the community.
Mr. Dsouza than requested Mr. Prashanth Pereira, Youth Co-Ordinator to make a presentation on the Our Lady of Assumption Church and St Josephs’ High School, Kandivali issue concerning the Poisar river widening. . Points are covered in the Memorandum.
On the Kandivali Poisar river widening issue, the delegation apprised the Municipal Commissioner and other Senior Officials of the Corporation that MMRDA and BMC
had appointed specialised Government Agencies namely Central Water Power Station, Pune and WAPCOS Ltd, Gurgaon to suggest remedial flood mitigation measures for the Poisar, Mithi and other rivers. And why those recommendations are not being implemented?.
Adv. Godfrey Pimenta shared the various points concerning the St Anthony’s Church, Malwani,Malad Road Widening Issue. Please refer to the Memorandum on this subject.
The delegation once again apprised the Commissioner and the Senior Officials that why environmental rules and regulations more particularly spelt out in the Memorandum are being violated and development is being carried in a lopsided manner.
What is more relevant is widening the Swami Vivekand [SV] Road which is proving to be a bottleneck and lakhs of people are suffering owing to this.
Mr. Joaquim Colaco of the United Christian Cemetery Committee spoke on the Cemetery issue. Again points covered in the memorandum.
Mr. Sitaram Kunte, Municipal Commissioner gave the delegation a patient hearing. He had the entire team of BMC officials connected with these issues at the said meeting.
Mr. Sitaram Kunte assured the delegation that he will investigate the facts presented to him and personally do the site visits to both the Churches, Our Lady of Assumption and St Josephs’ High School, Kandivali and St Anthony’s Church, Malwani, Malad West and will convey his decisions to the concerned.
On the cemetery issue he directed the officials to expedite the acquisition process for the Kandivali land for the Christian Cemetery and also work on speedy basis for the Christian Cemetery at Goregaon, Western Express Highway.
“Save Our Land”- Committee [SOUL]
SAVE OUR LAND- COMMITTEE [SOU
c/o. Our Lady of Assumption Church, M.G. Road, Kandivali West, Mumbai 400 067.
19th December 2012
Hon’ble Shri Sitaram Kunte,
Mumbai 400 001.
We wish to apprise you as under:
Permanently withdraw notices of acquisition to!!!!
· St. Joseph High School Grounds, Kandivali
· Our Lady of Assumption Church, Kandivali
· St Anthony’s Church Malwani, and
· Allot Land for the Cemetery on the Eastern side of the Western Suburbs.
A] Our Lady of Assumption and St Joseph’s High School, M.G. Road, Kandivali West.
a) The BMC intends to acquire parts of the Cemetery, School Ground and Church for widening of the Poisar River
, which has now been reduced to a mere stinking Nullah [Gutter]. The Church stands to lose 100’s of our graves of our ancestors and the children numbering over 1700 are on the verge losing a playground. As it is the Mumbai has the dubious distinction of lowest open spaces for sports activities and it is no wonder that out Nation produces fewer medals in International Sporting events.
b) The Nullah width of 36 mtrs is the widest at the School/ Church while at other locations it varies between 4 mtrs to 20 mtrs and at several places there is no space for the flow of the water, as it has been encroached by illegal and ever mushrooming slums , debris, garbage etc. The BMC now wants to widen the Nulla at the Church / School from 36 mtrs to 37.5 mtrs and waste public money in the process.
c) Alternate methods of cleaning the debris/ deepening the nullah have been suggested by the WAPCOS LTD, a Govt of India undertaking which was appointed to study and recommend flood control measures to BMC, after the deluge of July 2005.
d) The relevant pages of the Interim Report – December 2005 by Water and Power Consultancy Services [India] Ltd [WAPCOS] pertaining to the Study on Flood Mitigation Measures for the Poisar River in North Mumbai are self explanatory.
e) At 4.10.2 the following is noted.
Parameter Poisar River
Existing Width 10 mtrs
Proposed Width 20 mtrs
Depth: 4.0 mtrs.
f) It has also clearly listed the encroachments and potential risk zone at point no 8, 9, 10.
Pg No. 158 of the said report has suggested Zoning and Channelization of Rivers in Mumbai. The suggested norms for the Poisar river:
Existing Width: 8-20 mtrs
Recommended: 22.5 mtrs.
g) In the present situation as highlighted earlier, the existing width of the Nullah / River at the School /Church is at 36 mtrs which is the widest. Hence trying to acquire more land for increasing the widths smells of a conspiracy and is technically not a feasible move. However, all scientific reasoning has fallen on deaf ears of BMC.
h) On one occasion the said Church had given land in front of the Church for road widening without asking / claiming for any compensation. This very land has now been usurped and encroached by free for all illegal parking of vehicles and garbage bins etc. It may relevant to note that this Church has a history of over 400 years and this how the BMC regards the sanctity of maintaining a heritage structure.
B] St Anthony’s Church, Malawani, Malad West.
a) We wish to apprise you and place before you our objections in respect of the above subject matter as under:-
b) It may be relevant to note that on one hand the Mumbai Municipal Corporation has itself approved the proposal for listing and including St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani with a grading of Grade II (A) in the recently published proposed heritage list, however on the other hand the Corporation knowing very well its limitations in the case of road widening in the case of property consisting of heritage building/structure, is now hell bent on usurping the very property of the Church that is sacred to all its Parishioners by mindless daylight robbery of not only the open space that is used by the children of the Parish , school children and worshipers for prayer services, gatherings, etc., but also the Corporation is trying hard to gobble up a structure itself having been built prior to 1872 and forming part of the property consisting of the proposed Heritage Structure by demolishing it and has called upon the Church to hand over its alleged open plot which is not at all open as the same consists of a) the Compound wall b) The structure in existence from prior to 1872 which is the residence place for the blessed sacrament , all the priests who are appointed to serve the Church as Priest together with Church workers who are staying at this residence and serving the Church and also for prayers, counseling, charitable work, Church Office and other activities and also used as a meeting place for various meetings and c) Grotto that has immense value to the Parishioners as it is where they have been honoring St. Anthony, the Patron Saint of the Church and to many the same has brought and continues to bring solace, as set back for the purposes of road widening.
c) What is more hurtful and unjust is that, exactly opposite the Church premises the BMC have allowed constructions of residential / commercial premises for which permissions were given as late as 2001, although the plan was decided to widen the road equally on both sides in 1971. We are at loss to understand this double standards adopted by BMC. Besides once again the road is encroached upon before the Malwani Church. Beyond Malwani Church it is a Coastal Regulation Zone and No Development Zone. INS HAMLA, a defense establishment has always objected to the development of the area from the national security perspective.
d) The proposed road is not only being constructed in flagrant violations of several laws but in the process huge mangrove areas are also affected which itself is an act of committing contempt of court. Despite all this and the legal position being clear that construction of road cannot be undertaken without proper approvals and sanctions in hand the BMC is going full steam ahead with its plan for obvious extraneous reasons.
e) We have the following questions to be answered by the Corporation :
i) Is the Corporation entitled in Law to widen the road, whereby Grade II (A) heritage structures are bound to be destroyed permanently?
ii) Is the Corporation which is completely funded by tax-payers, a responsible public body for the benefit of the common citizens or is it colluding with builders, etc for the future development of the area for commercial gains, even when the entire area around and beyond Malwani Church is No Development Zone and is sparsely populated area? Then for whose benefit is the road widened?
iii) INS HAMLA, which is highly protected area by Government of India through the Ministries of Defense/Home Affairs has always objected to the development of the area from the National Security perspective. As such is the Corporation trying to jeopardize the security of the Nation in any manner by the proposed development?
iv) Why has the Corporation kept mum over entire S. V. Road widening for decades, which has chronic traffic jams and which requires urgent road widening?
v) We would like to know why the Corporation agreed to spare certain structures on the opposite side of the Church, especially, when there is adequate land on the other side? What was the logic behind deciding to widen the road over the parcel cut out from within the compound of the Grade II (A) heritage structures ( Church & its precincts ) proposed in the list and notified by MCGM itself when there was ample free space on the other side?
vi) Is Corporation a profiteering, land-grabbing body set up to aid builders & developers ,etc at the cost of the citizens on whose tax money their infrastructure is solely supported?
f) We state that wherever the roads have been widened by the Corporation, the said roads have been usurped by illegal parking, hawkers, slum dwellers, garages and commercial establishment. In this connection we invite your kind attention to the beginning of the road from Kharodi slope that though the road has been widened there yet the Corporation and other concerned bodies are not able to protect the existing roads which are filled with rampant encroachments and illegal parking’s . Your attention is also brought to the service roads along the entire Western and Eastern Highways. If the Corporation is not able to protect the existing service/widened roads free of rampant encroachments and illegal parking’s. For whose benefits are these service/widened roads being built?
g) We invite your attention to the similar move by the Corporation to widen the Hill Road, Bandra Mumbai which was then affecting St. Peter’s Church and St. Andrew’s Church, Cemetery and the Grotto and the Parsi Aguiary which was resisted by protest rallies, the said road widening was stalled and the road was realigned. We say that similar road re-alignment is possible but the Corporation is acting at the behest of the vested interest, which we will laid bare at appropriate and opportune moment.
h) Don’t thrust development of such nature on us. We warn the Corporation that they ought to put their own house in order and first clear the existing service/widened roads in Mumbai of all illegal parking, hawkers, slum dwellers, garages and commercial establishment and then venture to widen the road at Malad Marve Road.
i) As such it is our humble request BMC to stop playing fiddle with the honest tax payers and do not destroy the structures itself proposed and notified by it in the List of Heritage Structures until and unless the objections to the structure being listed as Heritage structure be heard and dealt with by the concerned authority and until the objections pertaining to the issue of road widening and re-alignment be heard and dealt with in a positive direction and in the right perspective.
C] Cemetery on the Eastern Side of the Western Suburbs.
a) We were allotted space for Christian Cemetery vide your following drawings/ letters beginning April 2001:
b) BMC Architectural Drawing No. 50 dated 12/6/2001 and Drawing No. 3-B dated 6/4/2001, Plot No. CTS 163 (pt), village Akurli, Wadar Pada, Kandivli ( East ), Mumbai.
c) HO/ 10375/ RI dated 20/6/05 from the Executive Health Officer (H.Q) stating that area allotted for Christian cemetery as 4325.00 square meters and that the Cemetery would be available for use very shortly.
d) ACQ / WS/ 187 dated 26/ 9/ 05 from the Executive Engineer (Development Plan–P&R) stating that the plot of Christian cemetery bearing CTS no. 163 (pt) of village Akurli, is in possession of A/C R/ South ward and internal boundary/ development work will be executed by R/S ward.
e) HO / 32721/ A dated 7/12/05 from the Executive Health Officer (H.Q) stating that the
Engineering Dept. has been instructed to construct the boundary wall between Muslim and Christian cemeteries to safeguard the plot against encroachment .
f) Unfortunately despite several reminders to your Asst /Dy. Commissioner R/South ward no action was to hand over the cemetery land allotted to us and finally the said land was UN-authorisedly encroached due to delay in constructing the boundary wall by the R/South ward office.
g) Both the Muslim Kabrasthan and the Hindu Cemetery have been developed and put to use. Why are the Christians deprived of such a basic humanitarian facility of burial ? Needless to state, this is also gross deprivation of our constitutional rights as citizens of this country.
h) From 2003 the United Christian Cemetery Community has been agitating on this issue. Everyone including BMC authorities and politicians make promises but no implementation has taken place.
i) Land for a Cemetery on the Eastern side of the Western suburbs is sought from 1996 which the BMC cannot provide and yet the BMC demands land from the Churches/ Schools as a matter of right. There is no cemetery for the community from Khar to Dahisar on the Eastern side. The approx. of the Christian Community is in the region of 3 lakhs. Hence funerals are an expensive affair as the nearest cemeteries are bet 12-20 kms.
j) Another issue is the recently developed Burial place for both the Hindu and the Muslim community at Aarey Road, Goregaon West, Western Express Highway. But why not also setting up the Christian Cemetery at this location as BMC laws stipulate setting up of Composite Cemeteries? We demand this be done urgently to at least mitigate the suffering so of the Christians.
k) The Government and the BMC authorities in the past have systematically targeted spaces of the Church and the community when they had tried to acquire the St Andrews’ Church Cemetery St Peters Church / St Stanislaus School spaces and the Parsi Aguiary on Hill Road, Bandra on the pretext of road widening in November 2006. A defiant community supported by various NGO’s and activists made a hue and cry and the concerned authorities had to abandon their nefarious designs.
l) Land surrendered by St Josephs School, Bandra for footpath// road widening has been encroached by hawkers and others. Holy Family Church and School at Chakala and St Jude’s Parish Jeri Meri have given major chunks of their land for road widening.
m) The authorities rely on the fact that we are a peace loving and law abiding community and hence can be easily trampled upon. We are hurt and while all efforts have been made to discuss this with the concerned authorities there appears to be no favorable response and it is clear that our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. We are always seen as soft targets. Hence we had no choice but to voice our protest at this injustice.
n) Hence the first Rally campaign was organized on December 01, 2012 at Our Lady of Assumption Church/ St Joseph School Grounds. This Rally was organized to send a clear message to the BMC / Government authorities to listen to legitimate grievances and stop this unjust methods of usurping the Church and School lands.
o) The following resolution was unanimously passed at the gathering numbering thousands:
“We condemn the actions of Mumbai Municipal Corporation to go ahead with its intended plan of illogical widening of the Poisar River at places where the River is sufficiently wide enough to carry drain water and also the widening of Malad – Marve Road which affects the Heritage Church. Similarly, we also condemn the non provision of Cemetery on eastern side of the Western Suburbs. If our demands are not met, we will escalate the issues to its logical end”.
p) A memorandum with 50,000 signatures on these issues along with the resolution will be sent to the following dignitaries:
Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairman –National Advisory Council, Shri Rahul Gandhi, Gen.Secretary, AICC, Shri. Prithiviraj Chavan, Chief Minister, Maharashtra, Shri Sitaram Kunte, Municipal Commissioner, Shri Naseem Khan, Minorities Welfare Minister, Maharashtra, Shri Rehman Khan, Union Minorities Minister, Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Chairman- National Minorities Commission, Leader of the Opposition, Maharashtra , Shri Sanjay Nirupam, Member of Parliament, North Mumbai and several other important dignitaries.
This is put you on notice that our next agitation dharna / morcha is planned on January 19, 2013 at Malwani and plans are on for a major agitation at Azad Maidan shortly if our grievances are not solved positively by then.
Please note that several organisations including the The Bombay Catholic Sabha, Sahar Citizens Forum, St. John the Baptist Church Save Committee, Mobai Gaothan Panchayat [MGP], activists and citizens are actively supporting this cause.
“We are ready to make Peace but Hell No to give a piece of our Land”
“It matters not how long the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not! Fight on! Tomorrow must come the song.”
Hence we appeal to you to intervene in these matters and find positive solutions to the benefit of the Christian community.
“Save Our Land”- Committee [SOUL]
Our Lady of Assumption Church,
M.G. Road, Kandivali West, Mumbai 400 067.
Tel: 09820226227 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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