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Gujarat HC rules in favour of communal harmony park 'razed' in Ahmedabad

Counterview Desk
The Gujarat High Court has ruled against the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) demolition of the communal harmony park on June 21, 2021, established by the city-based NGO Society for Promoting Rationality (SPRAT) way back in 2004. 
Claimed to have been established to “demolish” the communal borders between Ahmedabad’s minority-dominated Juhapura area and an “exclusively” majority area, Vejalpur, the HC judgement delivered by Justice Biren Vaishnav states that AMC’s actions was “unfair and unwarranted.”
Praising SPRAT work, the court asked AMC to consider reallotting the park to SPRAT under public private partnership (PPP). Ordering the AMC to pay a token cost of Rs. 25,000 to SPRAT, the court observed that SPRAT is entitled to approach the appropriate court to claim proper compensation from AMC for damages it caused to SPRAT’s large-scale structures, says an NGO note.

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Way back in 2004, the NGO, SPRAT, set about demolishing the communal borders between Ahmedabad’s Juhapura and Vejalpur, on a muddy 50x50 Meter plot of land allotted by Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). It built a unique multipurpose Park that connected Ashok’s and Lata’s with Akbar’s and Fatima’s of the vicinity through adventure games, popular science, a variety of educational, cultural and livelihood services -- 1.5 million times! All for free!
The Multipurpose Park, aptly named MUSKAAN, combined science appreciation, adventure games, educational and cultural competitions and exhibitions, besides being the largest patch of greenery - and the only place of recreation for nearly 5 lakh people - in around five sq km area.
From elderly healthcare and free medical check-up to yoga training, livelihood and life skills, and special bus service… several initiatives forever changed the Park’s surroundings.
But all that came to a brutal halt on June 4, 2021. AMC bulldozed the Park: SPRATians labour of years of love reduced to dust in a few hours.
Without any valid reason, AMC officials, 13 years later, suddenly sought eviction although AUDA’s former chairman and six AMC councilors praised and recommended its long-term regularization. And while one wing was considering PPP, the other sealed the park and later bulldozed it without any notice. SPRAT was even denied the five weeks’ time it sought, to move its multimillion-rupee assets to its upcoming House of Reason [(Tarkik Sadan) at Matar.
And this despite that AMC’s former Commissioner, Vijay Nehra, had himself praised SPRAT’s work and wanted it to expand its science promotion activities at the River Front.
While some sections of media called this injustice out, others joined the naysayers and rumour-mongers to malign SPRAT as land grabber, despite the fact that SPRAT itself had actually declined two more plots of land AMC’s Mayor Asit Vora had offered.
Demolition by AMC authorities
SPRAT filed a writ of Petition on July 31, 2021 at Gujarat High Court vide Registration No: SCA/13299/2021. This was first heard by Justice Ashutosh Shastri and later by Justice Biren Vaishnav. The Court saw merit in the case and expedited its hearing, argued by SPRAT’s President, Hasan Jowher, as Party in Person. The case was decided in a record 19 weeks.
In the judgement delivered this morning, the Court of Hon Justice Biren Vaishnav held AMC’s actions as unfair and unwarranted. Praising the work of SPRAT, the Court urged AMC to consider reallotting the park to SPRAT under PPP. Ordering the AMC to pay a token cost of Rs. 25,000 to SPRAT, the court observed that SPRAT is entitled to approach the appropriate court to claim proper compensation from AMC for damages it caused to SPRAT’s large-scale structures.
Hailing the judgement, Jowher urged the Government of Gujarat and the AMC to act statesmanlike, and to use SPRAT’s dedicated social services to promote rationality and to popularize science right across the state. The video steaming link of this judgement is given here.

Comments

Jowher said…
Thank you Counterview for sensitizing your readers to the plight of social workers in Gujarat.

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