Poona Parsee panchayat allowing encroachments

Members of the Parsi community in the city are a worried lot. Many fear properties worth Rs 1,500 crore belonging to the community might be acquired by the government or taken over by land grabbers. Worse, there are those who say the charitable trust that controls these estates is trying to sell off prime properties to builders for peanuts.

By Salil Urunkar | Mid-Day

Pointing fingers at the Poona Parsee Panchayat (PPP), a charitable trust that manages community funds and looks after its plots and bungalows, some in the community say the trust is hand-in-glove with the builder lobby.

Defending itself, the PPP claims it is in fact doing its best to protect its vacant plots across the city against not only illegal encroachment but also acquisition by the government.

Of the 80,000 Zoroastrians in the world, about 10,000 live in the city. Many members of the community contribute to its welfare by donating lakhs of rupees. The PPP manages all these funds and also looks after prime plots and bungalows, including in Wanawadi, Lulla Nagar, Khadakwasla and Camp.

Conspiracy theory

In a case filed before the Joint Charity Commissioner of Pune this year, litigant Rustom Ginwalla, one of the beneficiaries of the Trust, alleged that the PPP was trying to dispose of the Trust property at Ghaswala Building in Wanawadi and properties at Khadakwasla and elsewhere.

Ginwalla also alleged that there was a "tacit understanding" between the PPP and the builder lobby and other authorities concerned. He said many of the Trust properties had deliberately or otherwise been allowed to be "encroached upon". The Trustees have allegedly not made any move to evict these encroachers.

"The PPP trust has got control over prime properties in Kondhwa, Wanawadi, Khadakwasla and Camp, and its market value is about Rs 1,500 crore," said Advocate Amitkumar Bhowmik, who is representing Ginwalla.

"Several properties meant for charitable purposes are being commercialised by the PPP. The trust has not even conducted an Annual General Meeting (AGM) since 2009 and accounts are not being allowed to be inspected."

Panchayat concern

The PPP in its AGM report of 2007 has voiced its concern about government authorities carrying out inspections including aerial surveys of vacant lands in and around the city for acquisition and reservation for public purposes. In the same report, the PPP has also mentioned the "inherent risk" of encroachment and trespass by unauthorised people.

Subsequent reports are not available and AGM have not been conducted since 2009.

  • Armaity

    Type your comment here…This is an appeal request to the Pune Parsi Panchayat office bearers and the residents to please come to table, sort out the differences across the table instead of the court room arguments. Swindling transactions and corrupt actions does not befit a true Zorastiran – 1,500 crore PPP property was not acquired in a day, please respect the toil, sweat and greatfullness of the donors Plea to each one of Pune Zorastiran community to come forward and see that the properties are developed for the community instead of going the easy way of selling it to the builders.

    PPP please address the major problems faced by your community – divorce in the community. Though our community is small Parsi/Irani have the highest rate of divorce cases, old age is the second problem. Our elders are mostly not taken care of – so why not build old peoples’ home and medication centre instead of seeing the land being used as a dump yard of garbbage and urinal pot and the third is housing – please develop the land to house the community.

    One is always judged by his / her actions. One should lead a quality life instead of quantity life. Quality of life is not judged by his or her wealth and riches – but the deeds done and words spoken for a good motive and purpose. In short one has to be merciful and should have the power of understanding and interpretation of the situation.

    Sad but true the PPP office bearers fail to understand or are turning a blind eye to the seriousness and repurcussions of the situation. PPP office bearers please be wise and address the situation just do not run in the dark wrong direction. A lion does not roar in the air just like that.

  • Farokh Shroff

    Dear Zorastrians,

    Request each of the Puneite Zorastrian community to please attend the Annual General Meeting of the Pune Parsi Panchayat which is scheduled for 31st March’11 at 3.00 pm.

    The office bearers of the Pune Parsi Panchayat (PPP) lack in common sense. They are utilising the resources of the PPP for messy matters to achieve their nasty goals. Time has spared no one be it a king or a beggar. Success and Failure are two sides of the same coin. One has to accept failure as a Man and Success as a King provided it is achieved and earned in the correct manner.

    PPP office bearers please wake up from your sleep and start re-directing your energy and effort for the benefit of the community and not for your own selves

  • Nina

    This is to inform that the Pune Parsi Panchayat’s (PPP)Annual General Meeting was held on 31st March, 2011 at around 4.00 pm. This time the PPP had no escape but to conduct. The Chairman-Mr. Farokh Irani had pre-planned and manovered the meeting in the direction he wanted to. This he did it with the help of his warriors of ladies.

    During the meeting Mr. Farokh Irani was being personal and pointed fingers at one Mr. Sarkari whose mother is a non-Parsi. Before raising a finger he should have looked a glimpse of his own personal life – married to a Maharashtrian and now presently having an affair with a Parsi widow. Even Mr. Loveji Mehta, office bearer on the PPP Board has married a non-parsi. The fact of the matter is whether one marries within or outside is not of importance but the quality of life one leads is of prime importance.

    The AGM was a big farce. Even the ex-Trustee Mr. Dara Irani was not given an opportunity to hear him out. Mr. Farokh Irani like a Gadaffi conducted the meeting. The present bench of PPP does not know the meaning of “team work” and “clear and transparent” working of their day-to-day affairs.

    Mr. Rumi Mehta – instead of concluding the meeting with a vote of thanks to the Chair concluded by uttering “DAYA-NI-MAI-DAKAN”. Mr. Loveji Mehta, you being the ex-Principal of Petit School was moral values have you thought your student Mr. Rumi Mehta?

    Mr. Rumi Mehta thinks he is the authority on calculating figures and demanding higher rent – but he fails to understand that there is a “Divine Computer” of the Almighty who is constantly on and has been monitoring his deeds every second. Such harsh words from Mr. Rumi Mehta is not a good sign of a person being on PPP Board.

    PPP Board do not for once think that you all had an upper hand at the AGM as mind you, Chairty is always done in the name of the Almighty and is always Merciful. Whereas when you people are giving doles you are belittleing the dole receivers and then commenting ” not to forget PPP who is giving them this money”. Let me be very frank ,it is neither Rumi Mehta’s or Farokh Irani or Mr. Kapadi’a mercy – it is the Will of the Lord which you all are misusing for all your own benefit s and goals. None of you will be spared.

    Enjoy till such time the wrought of the Lord does not befall each one of you.

  • Anahita

    I fully agree with Nina, that the Pune Parsi Panchayat’s (PPP) Annual General Meeting was a complete farce and was pre-planned. The trustees’ hidden agenda was to derail the meeting by making irrelevant personal remarks so that the attendees would not have a chance to talk about more relevant issues.
    Although I had personally not attended the meeting, (again a calculative move by the PPP trustees to ensure that not many can attend the meeting on a weekday that too during odd hours i.e. 3.30 pm) I was shocked to hear how Mr Farokh Irani & Rumy Mehta were rude and harsh with Mr Rusi Ginwala & Mr Sarkari.. From what I am told, the meeting was conducted in a very unprofessional manner where PPP Trustees targeted and instigated few chosen people for their selfish benefit… the meeting was ended in an abrupt manner by shutting down the sound system without a proper closure or giving a chance to the audience for asking any questions. Is this what an AGM is all about? Wasn’t this just an attempt to conduct an AGM for the sake of formality since their inadequacy was pointed out in one of the petitions??
    I always thought that we are dealing with a respected team of trustees but now it seems these unelected trustees are behaving more like dictators…I pray to the almighty to save the Pune Parsi community from these uncivilized trustees. I also would object to this Gundaism, after I heard how they hijacked the meeting by making personal irrelevant remarks (as mentioned by Nina above), asking security to attack people who spoke up and also by making a strong comment about cancelling the membership of Mr. Sarkari who dared to speak against their injustice… Mr. Farokh Irani has a track record of saying all the wrong things possible during such public gatherings and I strongly feel that being a trustee, one should show responsibility in the way they conduct themselves and what they say…. can we expect this from them???
    In their one year tenure of dictatorship, instead of doing good for the community they have brought a bad name to us… For all those who feel that Mr. Ginwala and the complainants are responsible for bringing a bad name to our community thru the recent newspaper articles against the PPP – WAKE UP and learn from the recent National Revolution against corruption. What matters most is to stand up against what is wrong, no matter which community is involved…. Parsi’s have always been known for their generosity, good words-good-thoughts-good deeds and that is exactly what we should promote in our future generations too.
    Let us all come together and save our next generation…..

  • Rustom Ginwalla

    In 2006, Mr. Rumy Mehta, Secretary of PPP, and self fought the elections together. Today, we are poles apart. At that time, Rumy had advised me that his education was financed by PPP. I have learnt that while extending financial assistance to some youngster recently, he advised the parents that after the child qualifies as a graduate, please remind him to think of the Panchayat. My question to my young past friend Rumy is : HOW MUCH FUNDS HAVE YOU CONTRIBUTED BACK TO THE PANCHAYAT? It would be interesting to note his reply.