Opposite Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, whose land was allotted to heart surgeon Nitu Mandke at concessional rate, is a large vacant patch of land overgrown with shrubs. Music director Naushad was allotted this plot by the state government to build a music academy in 2004. He passed away two years later in 2006. To date, not a brick has been laid upon the site. According to a 1983 government resolution, an allottee should be able to show that 25% of the funds required to construct the building is immediately available. The balance should be available within two years and construction should begin. If the rule is violated, the government can begin the process of taking back the land from the allottee.
Naushad’s son Rehman Naushad said, “We do intend to fulfil my father’s dream and hope to begin construction within a month. Other trustees like composer Uttam Singh are doing their best to raise funds.” However, Singh shrugged off responsibility, saying only Naushad’s family was aware of the status of the project.
Along Lokhandwala Road is Congressman Narayan Rane’s Sindhudurg Bhavan whose ground floor has been sublet to a marriage hall. The fourth floor houses vacant ‘classrooms’. According to the rules, commercialization of the plots is not allowed and use of the allotted land for any purpose other than what it was given for is also prohibited. TOI met Rane’s son Nilesh during a visit to the site. He said, “We have been urging self-help groups to come and avail of this space free of cost. We also invited students from Mumbai University to come. In fact, so much controversy has erupted over this plot that we would not mind returning it if the government wishes.”
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse said in the legislative council recently that the government would take back the plots if they are found to be misused. A list of all the plots that are lying idle will be compiled and the process of taking back such land will also be initiated.
In close vicinity is the Gyan Kendra Educational Trust. It is led by Subhash Pandey, a former BSP minister in Uttar Pradesh. Pandey received a windfall of no less than 15,000 sq ft of prime property at concessional rates.
In the first instalment he was granted 3,000 sq metres of land where he built Gyan Kendra High School. This plot was later “amalgamated” with an adjacent BMC playground that measures 4,000 sq m. In fact, longtime residents of Four Bungalows remember a signboard announcing that Gyan Kendra was merely the caretaker of the site. Soon, the trustees closed that playground to the public and are now building a college there.