Glimmer of Hope and Summary of SOUL Campaign…

SOUL campaign is in its third year of  agitation, fighting for justice against Unjust land acquisition Notice by BMC, for widening the road. After over two years of hard work by all, a glimmer of hope is visible. But it is still a long way to go. SOUL has managed to get BMC authorities to place on record that the Road Line (RL) needs to be looked at, once again. Instructions to that effect have been passed on to relevant authorities….Let us wait and watch.

Journey of SOUL has been documented and produced below…

GREG

 

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 SOUL COMMITTEE LEADING THE MARCH TO P NORTH OFFICE

Flashback on SOUL in NEW YEAR with NEW REGIME in state

With advent of New Year and New regime at helm of the state, it is imperative that we take stock of a progress made by SOUL – SAVE OUR LAND hitherto. This is a small effort to revive our memories which I dedicate to each and everyone, who participated in whatever small way possible.

 

SUMMARY OF SOUL ACTIVITY VIS A VIS UNJUST LAND ACQUISITION;

October 21st, 2012 will be remembered by every parishioner of St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani; because on that day, a movement was started, to fight against injustice. A week before, on 14th of October, to be precise, the much needed churning started when the area MLA from whom the parishioners expected support, put his hands up by saying, ‘ROAD LINE IS SACROSANCT AND IT CAN NOT BE CHANGED’

The following Sunday, i. e. 21st of October, 2012; parishioners resolved to take the fight against injustice ahead on their own and SOUL (Save Our Land) was born. SOUL has been fighting to save our 150 years old Parochial House, which BMC is trying to demolish for road widening. SOUL has till now kept them at bay. Thanks to the Parishioners from Malwani as well as Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Kandivali; who are also affected by similar unjust land acquisition by BMC, for widening of Poinsar River.

SOUL carried out many agitations like Protest Rallies, SILENT March on Ward Offices of BMC…Prominent among them are:

  1. Rally at OL of Assumption Church Kandivali on 12th December, 2012; attended by over 5000 parishioners as well as parents of the students from St. Joseph’s School.
  2. Rally at Infant Jesus Chapel Kharodi, on 5th January, 2013. This rally was unique in a sense that people silently marched with candles in hand, from two directions; one starting from HOLY CROSS near Asmita Jyoti Complex and other march Began from St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani, stopping traffic from both ends. This rally was attended by around 8000 people.
  3. 19th, January, 2013; crowd of around 12000, walked silently to BMC P North office at Liberty Garden, Malad; from St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani; And presented a memorandum to Asst. Commissioner, Shri Devendra Kumar Jain. Road from Adarsh Junction on Marve Road to Liberty Garden was closed for traffic because of crowd squatting on the road while delegation of SOUL was in the meeting with Mr. Jain.

This day also witnessed visit by Municipal Commissioner Shri Sitaram kunte; both, at Malwani as well as Kandivali. It is perceived that his visit was slated deliberately to coincide with proposed march to derail the same. But the organizing Committee successfully handled the situation.16th, of February, 2013; saw another massive march on R South BMC ward office, participated by large numbers. Delegation of SOUL Presented a Memorandum to Deputy Municipal Commissioner Shri Marathe.

  1. To top it, all a massive Rally, one of its kind where passive Catholic Community enthusiastically participated, at Azad Maidan on 15th of March 2014; attended by over 10000. Importantly, parishioners from around Sixty odd parishes within Archdiocese of Mumbai Participated..

A Challenge was thrown at BMC authorities from their own backyard. Delegation of SOUL met Shri Sitaram Kunte, BMC Commissioner, and handed him a memorandum and evidence of BMC’s Manipulation of ROAD LINE (RL), which has been moved towards Church Property.

Apart from above mentioned actions, SOUL also knocked on the door of various constitutional authorities.

  • Shri Sitaram Kunte; BMC Commissioner: 20th, December, 2012; SOUL team comprising of about Fifteen SOULmates, with kind courtesy of Mr. Julio Rebeiro, former Commissioner of Police, Mumbai; met the Commissioner in his office at BMC Headquarters to convey our dissatisfaction over unjust Land Acquisition Notice. Mr. Kunte then Promised to make a site visit, which has been mentioned above.
  • Priya Dutt, Ex MP: SOUL delegation met Priya Dutt and apprised her of the injustice, with a request to fix an appointment with former CM, Shri Prithviraj Chavan, which never came by.
  • Ashish Shelar, MLC (Now MLA): Adv. Ashish Shelar took this matter up in Legislative Council, to which former Chief Minister replied. However, his reply bypassed the real problem; obviously, he was misguided by BMC authorities. SOUL has responded in details.
  • Shri Sunil Prabhu; former Mayor; BMC: Through good office of Shri Ram Barot, Chairman of BMC’s Improvement Committee met the Mayor and explained our grievances to him. Mr. Prabhu instructed Mr. Barot to look into the matter personally and report to him. In this context Mr. Barot visited the site and had few meetings with SOUL team.
  • Shri Prithviraj Chavan:   SOUL had an opportunity to meet former CM shri Prithviraj Chavan; on the fringe of Community Leaders meeting called by Ms Janet D’souza, Vice President of Minorities Commission. In Brief time, he was presented with a booklet cum memorandum, explaining the grievances, requesting him for more time so that he could be apprised of the matter in details. The meeting did not materialize.

SOUL has been fighting to set things right, which BMC authorities have mangled deliberately. All are aware; our community is not against development. In fact, Church has surrendered around 1000 sq. ft of land in current phase of road widening. In the case where SOUL is protesting, the original ROAD LINE (RL), BMC has clandestinely moved it towards Church Property, in order to conceal their mischief of allowing the builder to the usage of land, over the RL on the other side. SOUL has proved this to BMC authorities, giving evidence, obtained through Right to Information (RTI). BMC is silent over it.

Manipulation of RL is criminal offence, which BMC authorities have committed. Adv. Godfrey Pimenta, President of Watchdog Foundation and supporter of SOUL, has applied for SANCTION TO PROSECUTE them under section 197 of C. R. Pc., which is required as per the law.

1st, December, 2014; SOUL, sent a letter of appeal to Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis for audience, in order to make a presentation of our grievance; Hoping that he would oblige.

SOUL Team met Shri Gopal Shetty, MP, North Mumbai Constituency, on 6th, December, 2014; under whose jurisdiction this matter falls. He was apprised on the matter with a presentation. He seem to be keen on resolving this issue and has deputed one of his Corporator to fix a meeting between SOUL and BMC authorities. Whether the meeting materializes or not, remains to be seen.

As Instructed by Shri Gopal Shetty, MP; Adv Gyanmurthy Sharma, Chairman of Law Committee of BMC, called for a joint meeting with personnel from Road & Traffic, Development Plan and P North of BMC. In this meeting SOUL Committee succeeded in convincing the Chair that Road Line indeed has been manipulated to move it around 25 ft. towards Church property, in order to protect Building Proposal Department, who approved plans for buildings on RL, on opposite side. SOUL clearly stated that Church cannot be penalized for folly of BMC engineers. Adv. Gyanmurty then issued a directive to resurvey the line and submit the report.

SOUL will continue its fight against injustice, till the RL is restored to its original level, i. e. equidistance from the middle of existing road on both sides, as it has been the case on entire stretch of Marve Road, except near the Church/School.

Apart from Watchdog Foundation, various other associations and persons lent their support for this just cause. Prominent among them are Adv. Vivian D’souza, President of Bombay East Indian Associatio (BEIA), Mobai Gaothan Panchayat and others. SOUL is grateful to all of them. SOUL is also grateful to Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias, for sending his message, which was read by Fr. KT Emmanuel, at AZAD Maidan Rally on 15th of March, 2014.

GREG

MINUTES OF THE MEETING

MEETING WITH ADV. GYANMURTHY...MINUTES PG. 1MEETING WITH ADV. GYANMURTHY..MINUTES PG. 2MEETING WITH ADV. GYANMURTHY  MINUTES. PG. 3

1 Comment

  1. dmelloalex said,

    January 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you “SOUL”, you are the real followers of Christ. You continued your agitation against the unjust land acquisition notice of BMC inspite of rain or shine. Even though the sword was hanging on your head for 24×7 you were ready to attend an emergency call even at the zero hour when the entire Christian community is sleeping. It is said that most of the things in this world happen when one is asleep. Writing anything will be a waste if I do not congratulate the PP, Greg, Stanley, Dolphy and all the Malwani parishioners for remaining awake and exploring all the possibilities to solve this issue.

    No good things happen without it’s disappointing side too. The Bombay Catholic Sabha was hell bent on cancelling the 15th March 2014 “chalo Azad maidan” rally by persuading the SOUL team and and the entire community of Mumbai creating a lot of hurdles. It is alleged that some of the members have started a sms campaign on 14th March evening saying the Azad maidan march is called off and the issue is solved. They even misquoted saying the Cardinal and all Bishops are against this morcha. They went to the extent of misguiding (sic) people saying since elections dates are declared one cannot take out a morcha (we have the mail as a proof). I directly hold Sabha leadership for this mindless & meaningless propaganda. Had the SOUL followed their advice, by now the malwani church would have already lost the land and for that matter OLA Kandivli too. The second blow has come from non other than the elected representaives to whom we voted to power in every elections worked against us by saying ” road to banega hi”

    Kudos to Fr Austin & Dolphy for taking a immovable stand. Jo dar gaya woh mar gaya. By taking a stand there is nothing to lose but by not taking a stand one tend to lose more land than asked for.

    During the year 2014, BMC has not persued some other notices issued to various churches in Mumbai & Thane. May be the effect of this agitation cautioned BMC not to burn it’s fingers. Malwani is a classic example for the entire community of Mumbai and a reminder that if the community join hands no one can play with our church properties

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