In a move to allegedly shield some of its erring officials involved in the Futala lake Food Kiosks goof up, Nagpur Improvement Trust will be up for demolishing seven identified food joints facing the lake here on Monday. In line up with the ongoing controversy over the encroachment by the shops and alleged nexus between the private operator Sell Ads and NIT officials, the pending court hearing would come up on July 25 when both NIT and the petitioner Sanjay Agrawal would be submitting the affidavit updating their status over the issue.
NIT’s west zone officer Dhankar informed that seven shops including Cutting Chai, Tauby’s, Apple Cuisine, Pakodewala and three other shops out of the five owned by former mayor Maya Iwnate’s husband Chintamani Iwnate would be razed.
Nagpur Today spoke to these shopkeepers who on condition of anonymity said that each of them had invested nearly Rs 50 to 75 lakhs. The lease was for a period of 5 years. Expecting to recover their invested money, they have been striving hard and now suddenly NIT wakes up from deep slumber and decides to act on the PIL.
NIT going beyond court’s order?
The alleged court notice which NIT is quoting simply asks the NIT to file an affidavit as to what action, will it initiate against several such eateries (85 including those at Futala Lake). Acting on it was never the Court’s orders the eatery owners added. Without hearing their side of the story the NIT cannot act like an autocratic ruler who acts when and how it pleases them.
Gross violation by kiosk operators
The project had started in 2010. The entire project was designed by Sell Ads on a Public Private Partnership model (PPP) with NIT. Twenty spaces were allotted to 20 entrepreneurs. While some utilized the space to make one big eatery, others made glass partition and ran two or three small business of eatery. They have been allotted the space by Sell Ads which had a contract or lease agreement with NIT. These eatery owners are not recognized by NIT, since they were dealt by Sell Ads.
NIT remained ignorant for long
This move is allegedly being made by NIT to probably shield some of the erring officials who had ignored to check the dimensions when the owners of these eateries and food kiosks were erecting their business establishments. The NIT officials never inspected their shops or eatery while it was set up. They never bothered if Sell Ads had ensured that these eatery owners had adhered to all the terms and conditions mentioned in the original contract with Sell Ads. The eatery owners alleged that some of the NIT officials had also inaugurated some of these shops or eatery. They added that they were regular visitors to their eateries.
Not all observations in PIL were true!
Trouble started when local RTI activist Sanjay Agrawal filed a petition against the irregularities being committed in the number of eateries and further allocation of parking and sitting space by Sell Ads to these eateries. The space was allegedly allotted to be annexed to their present space and avail extended eatery space. The PIL had made several observations which in fact were not true.
NIT woke up to save face
However, when some erring NIT officials noticed that they would be in hot soup if they did not take any action, they sent a notice to the eatery owners in May 23, 2013 stating that the constructions are illegal and would have to be demolished. Meanwhile, whenever, some NIT official came, he would ask these eatery owners to remove some of the temporary sheds, canopies etc and the eatery owner would adhere to those instructions.
In response to the notice issued by NIT, these shopkeepers had united and had filed a case in the court, the hearing of which is on July 25, 2014. However, NIT officials had come on July 18, 2014 and said that they are going to demolish 5 structures from the Northern end.
Let down move for lake enthusiasts
Nagpur Today spoke to some of the youngsters who were present at Futala Lake. They said, getting wet and eating snacks at the eateries is what makes them enjoy the rains. The Futala Lake spot, gathers young and old crowd and certainly generates a lot of revenue. If the local authorities want to act, they should call all the concerned parties and get all the problems sorted out amicably so that no one loses in the bargain. Acting on the orders of officials who had erred and had ignored their duties for nearly 4 years, and suddenly getting up from deep slumber and acting doesn’t make any sense.
:: As told by Shop owners to Nagpur Today