Sharda Sadan: Saga of Sheer Struggle and Sacrifice
It was a chance meeting with Late Shri TN Monga at a social get-together in 2001 in Vashi. As usual, post-exodus events were being discussed. These discussions were nothing out of the ordinary then, they are nothing out of the ordinary today.
Nonetheless, Shri TN Monga spoke about how he could not see a possibility of return to the Valley and that’s why he had thought of having a cultural centre of our own at Navi Mumbai. His thought emerged from the many such centres of other communities that had come up in the area.
He spoke about enabling the community to preserve its identity.
He on his own, on behalf of KPA, Mumbai had approached CIDCO in mid-nineties for allotment of land to build the community centre.
While his efforts of almost three years had earned assurance from the authorities for the allotment, reluctance on the part of the then KPA office bearers disillusioned him and he gave up pursuing the case. The file containing the correspondence with CIDCO got confined to the archives of KPA.
In the November of 2002, with the new Board of Trustees (BoT) helmed by Late Shri ML Mattoo in charge, on the insistence of some of the biradari members of Navi Mumbai, the file was retrieved and the pursuance of the case was restarted.
It is important to mention here that on hearing that KPA has envisaged building a community centre, Shri Mohan Lal Bradoo, appreciating the effort, sent a cheque of Rs. 3 lakhs to kickstart the project.
It provided the necessary boost and reaffirmed the resolve of making the dream come true. Shri SK Kaul, (of JNPT) was requested to use his good offices to expedite the allotment from CIDCO.
By now, Shri TN Monga’s file was declared time-barred by CIDCO. A fresh application along with the relevant documents, meticulously prepared by the then general secretary Shri CL Raina (2002-2004) and Shri ML Mattoo, were submitted to CIDCO.
On July 8, 2005, the combined efforts of Shri ML Mattoo, Shri CL Raina, Shri JL Kak (vice president), Shri SP Kachru (general secretary 2004-2007) and Shri SK Kaul bore fruit and a plot measuring 600.02 sq.m. (6458 sq.ft.) was allotted by CIDCO at a concessional total cost of Rs. 7 lakhs.
M/S Sanjay Razdan and Associates were appointed architects for the building, which was named Sharda Sadan.
The estimated cost of the building then was Rs. 1.65 crores.
It took almost two years to get the project approved by CIDCO and other government agencies, and to raise funds to start the construction.
Shri JL Kak, a qualified civil engineer with decades of experience, was made the project director while M/S Globe Engineering Company was appointed as the building contractor following a tender process.
Shri Mohan Lal Bradoo, along with Shri ML Mattoo and other members of the BoT laid the foundation on the auspicious day of Navreh (March 19, 2007).
The arduous task of building the Sadan commenced with the laying of first pile of foundation on April 9, 2007. The depth of the numerous piles measured from 3.5 mts to 7 mts. The plinth was completed on October 31, 2007, under the expert supervision of the architect and Shri JL Kak.
Mattoo Sahab would regularly visit the site, and on one such visit, he broke his ankle at the site and had to be plastered.
But it did not stop him from working tirelessly for the project. When not at site, he would be busy raising money for the project. His personal connections and his will to connect the people who mattered, brought in donations to keep the work going.
Meanwhile, the efforts of a few trustees, who went door-to-door, also yielded some monies.
First slab was casted on January 30, 2008.
With the building taking shape, the faith of community members, who were initially apprehensive about the project, was restored.
On suggestions of Shri PN Miya, a biradari member, KPA approached Government of India’s Ministry of Culture to seek a grant under ministry’s programme for preservation and promotion of culture.
After numerous visits to Delhi and submitting the necessary documents, Mattoo Sahab was able to get the grant of around Rs. 17 lakhs sanctioned. This whole process took more than a year. Eventually first instalment of Rs. 6 lakhs was received after the relevant expenditure on construction was submitted.
The architect and licensed structural engineers would check and test the materials used while the construction went on. If they found discrepancies, they made it a point to have these aberrations rectified.
While the recasting/rebuilding of the notified weak areas affected the progress, the perception on the outside was that it was paucity of funds.
Also, with no one of our own in regular supervisory role, the construction got delayed.
However, it is important to mention that in the absence of Shri JL Kak, Kharghar resident Shri Rattan Lal Raina, an engineer who had just retired from BARC, volunteered to undertake regular supervision of construction.
Late Shri KL Dhar too chipped in with his expertise besides occasional visits by Shri TK Raina, Rakesh Shah, Captain AN Raina and Sh. Kemmu
It was a great relief to Late Mattoo Sahab.
Shri Kemmu had taken over as general secretary midway during the 2007-2010 term after Shri CL Raina relinquished the post due to his personal reasons.
The structural work of the building, comprising of stilt plus 4 floors, stair case and the overhead tank (first phase), was completed by early 2010.
With the BoT term scheduled to end by September 2010, which affected the decision making process, and the fund flow drying up, further work could not be taken up.
A new BoT with Shri Rajen Kaul, a successful entrepreneur, at the helm was elected. Shri SP Kachru was nominated as the general secretary (2010-2013).
After several meetings and interactions with the board members, Shri Rajen Kaul took upon himself to bring the disillusioned concerned parties like the donors and the building contractor to believe that the project will see its completion. His confidence instilled a hope among people who had envisioned seeing a centre of their own.
The construction of the building restarted again under the overall guidance of Shri JL Kak, who was supported by architect Shri Sanjay Razdan, Late Shri KL Dhar and Shri Ashwani Bhat, a newly nominated trustee.
Shortage of funds demanded big ideas and to this effect, fund-raising musical events by renowned artists were planned.
The first programme was led by famous Bhajan singer Padma Shri Anup Jalota in March 2012. Renowned ghazal singer Shri Pankaj Udhas did the second programme in March 2013. A year later, sitar maestros Shri Bhajan and Abhay Sopori headlined the fundraising programme.
These events yielded more than Rs. 60 lakhs by way of sponsorships, souvenirs and ticket revenues.
Witnessing the progress of work, many biradri members from across Mumbai contributed large sums.
Since the project could not be completed during 2010-2013 term, three six-month extensions were sought from the Charity Commissioner.
Annual get-togethers, including Hawan and Navreh celebrations, and monthly BoT meetings were held on-site on many occasions to enable the biradri in general and the trustees in particular to see and monitor the progress.
While funds kept pouring in bits and parts, the delay in the completion of project toward the end had other reasons as well, including nitpicking by office bearers and often aggressive decision-making.
Eventually, on March 28, 2015, the four-storied Sharda Sadan, comprising of stilt, an air-conditioned hall, 22 rooms and two terraces, was inaugurated by Shiv Sena president Shri Uddhav Thackeray with great fanfare.
By the time it was completed, the total cost incurred was Rs. 2.5 crores.
The great joy that Sharda Sadan gave the entire biradari would not have been possible without the vision of Late Shri TN Monga, the initial donation by Late Shri Mohan Lal Bradoo, the resolve and efforts of Late Shri ML Mattoo to re-initiate the process, the good offices of Shri SK Kaul, the leadership of Shri Rajen Kaul, the hard work of Shri Ashwani Bhat to get the No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from various departments and the Occupation Certificate (OC) from CIDCO, and the donations of thousands of biradari members.
About Sharda Sadan
Sharda Sadan is a cultural and social center on a acquired land of 600 sq mts at Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. This center comprises of multipurpose community hall, charitable dispensary, Music room, rooms for old age, cultural library and reading room.
Touching humanity through cultural and social enrichment hence through setting up of this cultural center for promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage. Sharda Sadan is serving the community on several fronts especially ensuring that we preserve, maintain and pass on our cultural heritage to future generations.
Sharda Sadan, is an ideal place for the following:
- Propagation of Kashmiri Culture.
• Opportunity for Study and Research in Kashmiri Language with a cultural library.
• Providing temporary accommodation to visiting patients and their families for medical treatment for cancer/kidney/heart aliments.
• Temporary lodging support to up country students pursuing professional courses in Maharashtra.
• Diagnostic and Medical facilities for less privileged sections of the society.