Government of Maharashtra

Builders are trying to take over educational institutions because of the extra FSI being given for promoting education.

After taking control of the educational instituition, the students are neglected, made to study in small and cramped conditions so that the extra FSI can be exploited for commercial considerations.




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The problem has now culminated with the school being taken over by the Aditya Birla Group headed by Dr. Kumar Mangalam Birla. The Aditya Birla Group is running over 40 schools throughout India, and New Era School is the 41st school to join the group.

The Board of Trustees of New Era School currently comprises of 5 Trustees – 3 Trustees from the Aditya Birla Group, viz. Dr. Kumar Mangalam Birla (Chairman), Dr. Santrupt B. Misra & Mr. Sushil Kumar Saboo and 2 Trustees from Orbit Corporation, viz. Mr. Ravi Kiran Aggarwal and Mr. Pujit Aggarwal. Later, more Trustees will be appointed from the Aditya Birla Group.

New Era will continue as an SSC school. It will not be shifted. While the current traditional values will continue, the school will also be contemporized and better infrastructure will be provided. There will not be any major change in the fee structure for the existing students. It will be run as a "not for profit" institution.

The new Trustees addressed the Class Representatives in a meeting held on 26.09.2007 at 6.00 p.m. in the school hall. Dr. Kumar Managalam Birla was personally present and answered queries and clarified the doubts of the parents, for which the P.T.A. is thankful to him.

The new Trustees have created a website of the school http://neweraschool.org/ on which more information will the available.

Many parents and teachers feel threatened and insecure about the proposed takeover of the New Era School by builders Mr. Ravikiran Aggarwal and his son Mr. Pujit Aggarwal who are Directors of Orbit Corporation Ltd.

Is the threat perception justified or is it imaginary?

Relevant facts:

 The school does not own any land or building.

 The land and building on which the school is being run is owned by Seth Goculdas Tejpal Charities which has leased it to M.T. Vyas, his brother C.T. Vyas and wife Sarojben Vyas. The lease is for a period of 99 years and expires in February 2034.

 The lease deed (clause 11) provides that in the event of the building not being used for the New Era School, it would be permissible to let out the building for housing vegetarian Hindus. The ground floor may even be let out for shops or showrooms (except for alcohol or other intoxicating substances). The Lease (clause 15) also provides that the lease can be assigned for the remaining part of its tenure, i.e. the lease can be transferred by the Vyas family in favour of some other persons.

 The New Era School is being run by The New Era Education Trust which was formed in 1985 with a corpus of only Rs.1,000/-. The school does not have any property of its own.

 The legal heirs of the Vyas family have entered into a Leave & Licence Agreement with the New Era Education Trust which permits the school (under clause 2 & 3) to use the premises from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Presently, the school pays to the Vyas family a monthly licence fee of Rs.66,600/- which will increase to Rs.69,900/- from November 2007 onwards. The period of the Leave & Licence Agreement is 33 months and expires on 30th September, 2008.

 On termination of the Licence period, the school would be liable to leave the premises and remove its employees, servants and agents (clause 13). Any person continuing to occupy the premises would be a trespasser.

 The Municipal Assessment of the building shows it to be a "House" with the Ground and first floors let out to New Era School and the second floor wholly used for the Principal residence.

Reasons for the apprehensions of the parents and teachers:

 It is learnt that the builders have agreed to pay the Vyas family Rs.100 crores for the deal. No consideration is required to be paid by a person becoming a Trustee; in fact, a Trustee gives his time and expertise free of charge as a social service. New Era School has seen a change of several Trustees in the past, none of whom have been required to pay anything for being inducted as Trustees. Then what is the reason for the Aggarwals to pay so much money? Clearly, it is to "purchase" the land and building.

 Some of the parents have initiated legal proceedings before the Joint Charity Commissioner. During the hearing, the parents stated that the matter would be continued to its logical conclusion, and if need be, till the Apex Court. Reacting to this, on 07.06.2007 Mr. Pujit Aggarwal filed a Caveat (No. 322 of 2007) in the Bombay High Court, claiming that he has a right to be heard in the matter in case these parents challenged "the proposed transaction in respect of the property on which New Era School is being conducted". This makes it abundantly clear that the builders are interested in the property and not in the school per se. Similarly, on 11.09.2007 Mrs. Usha Krishna, the permanent Trustee of the School has also filed a Caveat (No. 1492 of 2007) in the Bombay High Court against the P.T.A. (i.e. the Parent Class Representatives of the Parents Teachers Association) that she should be heard in case the P.T.A. moves the court for injunction against the proposed deal.

 Neither the present Trustees nor the builders are willing to give any assurance in writing. On the contrary, the present Trustees merely say that they are convinced of Pujit Aggarwal's intention to run the school, but in case something wrong is done at a later date, they would not be responsible, and it would be upto the P.T.A. to be strong enough to fight the wrong doings of the builder.

The apprehensions:

1. Is it possible to shift the school or close it down? Yes. IN FACT, THE MANAGEMENT HAS ALREADY APPLIED TO THE GOVERNMENT OF MAHARASHTRA, DEPARTMENT OF SCHOOL EDUCATION, FOR PERMISSION TO SHIFT THE SCHOOL. There are loopholes in the law which permit a school to be shifted or closed down. In fact, the builder has acquired a building known as "Limaye House" situated at Chickalwadi, Tardeo, in a lane next to Bhatia Hospital. This building used to house a Municipal School which has since closed down. The builder claims that he might temporarily shift New Era School to some other place (probably Limaye House) so as to be able to expand the present school building. There is no assurance as to how long the school would be shifted.

2. The unique exception in the case of The New Era School is that it does not own the land or building, it is not even a tenant protected under the Rent Act. It is functioning under a Leave & Licence Agreement. What happens if the builder does not renew the Leave & Licence Agreement? Since the land owners, the lessees and the New Era Education Trust are separate and distinct legal entities, it would be simple for the builder to force New Era School out of the premises by refusing to renew the Leave & Licence Agreement. Where do the 1100 students and teachers go?

3. Even if the builder agrees to renew the Leave & Licence Agreement, what would happen if he increases the licence fee to an unreasonably high amount in order to ensure that he gets "suitable" returns for his investment of Rs.100 crores. The school would have the option of either agreeing to the demand or winding up. If the school agrees to the increase in the Licence Fee, would it have the means to pay the amount. Definitely not. The burden of the increased licence fee would have to be proportionately divided amongst the students. This would result in an abnormal increase in fees making it unaffordable for most of the parents. Consequently, parents would voluntarily move their children out of New Era School. This would pave the builder's way for closing down the school. The builder would then have a free hand to do whatever he likes.

What do the parents and teachers want?
We want a written undertaking that the school will continue to function from the same premises; follow the curriculum of a recognized Secondary Education Board; the builder acquiring the land to execute a Leave & Licence Agreement for the remaining tenure of the lease, valid till 2034, so as to ensure the continuity of the school in its present location; and an assurance that the fees will not be hiked more than 10 per cent per annum.

What do we expect from the readers of this blog?

We want to mobilise public opinion against the takeover of the school by the builders. We want your support. Kindly voice your support by sending your comments to our e mail address: saveneweraschool@gmail.com. To facilitate your response, we are giving below a proforma in which you may send us your response.


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I support the parents and teachers in their cause to protect the New Era School, 17, Nyayamurti Sitaram Patkar Marg (Hughes Road), Mumbai 400007 and save it from being taken over by the builders.

The SAVE NEW ERA SCHOOL petition to Government of Maharashtra was written by Save New Era School and is in the category Education at GoPetition.