The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) on Monday told the Bombay high court that it had revised the definition of a poor Parsi as one who earns up to Rs 90,000 a month, in order to be eligible for a subsidized community apartment. The BPP, which controls over 5,000 flats in the city, had earlier fixed this amount at under Rs 50,000 a month. There are an estimated 45,000 Parsis in Mumbai.
Incidentally, the Planning Commission of India had pegged the minimum sustenance level required for a poor person in an urban area at Rs 29 a day.
An affidavit was filed by BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta in response to a petition by Dahanu resident Rohinton Taraporewala, (65) challenging the non-allotment of a flat to him at Panthaki Baug, Andheri. Earlier, Taraporewala had submitted the names of those who were allotted flats despite earning above Rs 50,000 a month.
In his April 17, 2012 reply, Mehta refuted Taraporewala’s claim of being a “poor, needy and deserving Parsi”. He said after the high court, on October 15, 2009, allowed BPP to sell flats on ownership basis, the trustees adopted criteria for allotment. Preference was to be given to those who want to settle down after marriage. “All applicants with incomes exceeding Rs 90,000 per month or with assets of more than Rs 25 lakh were to be eliminated,” Mehta stated. It was also decided to give low priority to applicants residing outside Mumbai. BPP invited applications for purchase of flats in buildings A and B at Panthaki Baug.
Mehta claimed that Taraporewala’s application showed that he owns 17 acres land in Vangaon, Dahanu, along with a farmhouse-a two-storeyed bungalow- measuring 2,000 square feet. “On a conservative estimate, this would be valued at Rs 1.5 to Rs 3 crore,” he added. Further, as per his income-tax returns, Taraporewala had a monthly income exceeding Rs 90,000. His assets include his various immovable properties and fixed deposits amounting to well over Rs 25 lakh. On the basis of his financial status he was not entitled to be allotted a flat at Panthaki Baug, Mehta added.
Mehta said that the reason Taraporewala gave for allotment was that there were very few basic hospital facilities in the village. He suffers from high blood pressure, prostate problem, diabetes and heart problems while his wife suffers from depression and anxiety. “Clearly, the petitioner could not be allotted a flat by the BPP as he was adequately housed and he desired to be allotted a flat so that he could give his bungalow on rent and live in Mumbai because he suffered from several ailments. In addition, the petitioner was clearly not a resident of Mumbai but of his own admission, living at Dahanu, close to the Gujarat border,” stated Mehta. Also, Taraporewala’s son and daughter and their families are settled abroad. He said Taraporewala “could not be classified as poor, needy and deserving” as stipulated by the HC order and accordingly his application was rejected.
The affidavit states that the BPP flats at Panthaki Baug, each of which is between 732 sq ft and 760 sq ft, will cost between Rs 17.56 lakh and Rs 20.52 lakh depending on their size and location. The current market value of each is approximately Rs 80 lakh. The flats are being sold at prices prevailing in 2001 and cost one-fourth of their market value today.