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Mother’s wing falls for land ‘ruse’

Ahmedabad, Aug. 3: Half of the land donated by a philanthropist to the Missionaries of Charity in Ahmedabad has fallen into the hands of the BJP-ruled civic corporation.

The Missionaries had surrendered the land — donated by Geraldo A. Fereiro — to the corporation after being told that such a token step is necessary to obtain permission to expand a home for the dying and destitute, according to Sister Mercita, the head of the wing here.

As it turned out, neither was the land returned as promised, nor was permission given for the home.

“We feel cheated,” Sister Mercita said.

In January 2004, when the Missionaries approached the civic authorities for permission to enlarge the home, they were told to surrender half of the land, saying it was mandatory to get approval for completing the construction.

Such a “surrender policy” has been put in place to regulate the construction boom on large tracts of farmland on the outskirts of the city. Farmland is allowed to be developed only if the promoter hands over a part of the land for public utilities.

Unaware that the policy does not apply to land within the city limits, the sisters agreed to sign an affidavit saying they were voluntarily surrendering the land. “We had no hesitation in signing the affidavit as we were assured that we would get back the land within 15 days on a token price once the plan was approved,” said Sister Mercita.

But Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity has not only lost about 1,500 sq m of land, it has also been refused permission to complete construction of the home, inaugurated by former mayor Aneesa Begum.

A standing committee turned down the proposal, alleging that the nuns are involved in conversions.

Mayor Amit Shah defended the decision, citing a high court directive. “Anyone who wants to develop agriculture land is required to surrender a portion of the land to the civic body.”

Former standing committee chairman Jayanti Parmar said this rule applies only to areas falling under the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority while this land is well within the city limits.

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