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Thursday, February 22, 2007

PCB under fire for ‘blocking info’

Residents suspect high-rise with mall coming up near schools
By Pranjal Bhuyan/TNN , Pune: Construction activity and talks of a new high-rise building coming up at Convent Street in the Pune Camp area has taken the authorities of three schools as well as residents of 11 housing societies by surprise.
What has shocked them even more is the Pune Cantonment Board’s (PCB) ‘unwillingness’ to furnish information regarding the upcoming project.
The residents and the schools fear that a high-rise building with a mall will create traffic chaos, leading to inconvenience to schoolchildren and even accidents, besides spoiling the atmosphere for learning.
The residents alleged that the PCB was unwilling to furnish information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act regarding the project.
Workers and security personnel at the site remaining tight-lipped about the ownership of the site can be understood, but surprisingly PCB chief executive officer (CEO) S.K. Sardana too pleaded ignorance!
According to Sardana, none of the letters had reached his office and he was not aware of any project on the plot as “anything sanctioned must have
been done during my predecessor’s tenure”.

I will ensure info is given within a week, says PCB CEO

By Pranjal Bhuyan/TNN
Pune: The three schools and residents of Pune Camp area, who stand to be affected by a new high-rise building in the area, have approached the Pune Cantonment Board for information on the project. But the residents allege that the board is unwilling to give out information even under the purview of Right to Information Act.
PCB chief executive officer (CEO) S.K. Sardana, however, said that the petitioners “have the right to make a representation to the appellate authority (the board) and I will ensure fast-tracking of the process so that all information is provided within one week.”
A 2,500-3,000 square feet plot (house number 1977), bang opposite St Anne’s high school is being dug up since last one month and building materials have been piled up there for construction activity. Around 60 workers are engaged in digging the premises.
The street hosts three major schools — St Anne’s, Choksey and St. John’s — with 1,500 to 3,000 students each and there are over 650 apartments in the housing societies.
The controversial plot housed a vacant bungalow for many years and nobody in the locality was aware of the exact ownership of the plot. The place came into limelight about a month ago, when the residents noticed construction activity and heard that a high-rise shopping mall
was coming up there.
Totally opposed to the establishment of a commercial complex in an already congested locality, more so on account of apprehension regarding the environment in the three schools, representatives of the Convent Street Societies’ Forum and of the schools sent the first of a series of petitions on December 15 last year seeking information regarding the issue.
Since then, they have approached the PCB a few more times, but so far their effort has failed to solicit any reply from the board.
“Any mall or commercial complex, besides destroying the peace of the locality, would be a menace for the school-children due to the expected heavy traffic,” said Joher Harnesswala, secretary of the Societies’ Forum.
The plot of land opposite St Anne’s school on Convent Street is abuzz with construction activit.
Publication: Times Of India Pune; Date:2007 Feb 22; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1

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