Keshavlal J Patel, (ACMA,CGMA)
59 Eton Avenue,
Middlesex. UK. HA0 3AZ
Namaskar to all my Kantha Vibhag Koli Patel friends in Navsari and South Africa,
I was part of the team of AMSUK interested in helping to develop at least one of the four of our Samaj’s Navsari Assets sites.
Not having made any progress for almost four years I decided I would not waste any more time. However I did write a final note giving my views. This is to be found on our mandhataglobal.com website under Navsari Assets heading.
A while ago Shree Babubhai Rama came up with an idea. He rang me from India and briefly described the scheme he had in mind and asked if I would support such an idea. He was to visit South Africa to discuss the details to the TKHM officials there. On his return to UK we met to discuss the details of the plan he has. His plan is that he be given the present site of TKHM and in exchange he will give his land including an adjacent plot on which he will build a multi-purpose Hall with modern facilities that he says the community will be proud of as part of the exchange. He told me that the site is near the Railway Fatak along Char Rasta. He says a lot of our people are choosing to live there and is convenient for transport from various Gams. Also that there are no other Halls in the area. The site can have buildings for café and restaurant etc. for nearby student population that can generate revenue. This is one plan
Earlier on Dr. Ramanbhai B Patel, a former trustee of TKHM Navsari had produced a detailed plan for the development of this site. This plan was prepared a while ago so it can be improved and amended if required. That is the second plan.
And there could be other alternatives. That should be considered.
There is an alternative that I would like to suggest.
I hope all the thoughtful and people with the welfare of our Samaj at heart will consider this suggestion very carefully before arriving at a final decision.
This involves a truthful assessment of the present needs of our people.
Is a Hall the top priority of our people or something else that would really improve the quality of their lives?
A very honest assessment of the need for a Samaj Hall and the problems associated with a substantial property need to be answered.
1. The first consideration is, do we have a Team with adequate number of dedicated and knowledgeable people who will manage, supervise and organize the property and activities week by week.
2. Would a large enough number of our people hire the Hall. Do our people hire Halls owned by other people on a regular basis in Navsari that they need a hall of their own. (If the Hall is not on the Main Road even other may not find it very attractive to hire).
3. What is our experience of the use of the Sanskrutik Bhavans that have been built in a number of Gams?
4. I am aware of such halls in Karadi and Samapore which do not even get opened for months on end.
5. Could this be the future for the New Hall we hope to build?
6. If we must build a Hall is it for prestige only or for a real need.
7. If revenue and profit generating is the aim then is there another way of doing this?
8. Could it be that we are exchanging a 20+ crore property for a 10 crore asset. (land and building)
These and more are some of the questions we need to answer honestly.
To my mind the most urgent need for our people is good and higher education, filtered water, provision of a high standard of technical skill and training.
The suggestion I would like to make is sell the present TKHM Navsari plot in an open market with adequate advertising.
1. Bank the net proceeds of the sale in a Fixed Deposit Account in the name of TKHM. (said to be 20 to 25 Crore Rupees?)
2. Even at 5% interest rate such an amount will produce nearly a 1 crore rupees. (Rs.20,00,00,000 @5%= Rs.1,00,00,000) I doubt if this sort of money could be generated from the Hall year after year.
3. Each year use 50 lakh rupees for education and 50 lakh rupees for social schemes in various Gams.
4. Divide the education budget in two and use half for smaller scholarships and the other half for full scholarship for graduate students to be selected from our Samaj who have achieved the highest marks in standard 12 Board examinations. No other consideration. We must ensure that the best talent is chosen.
5. The second half of the total interest earned to increase facilities for each of the Gams one by one. Water Filter Plants, computers in local schools, extra teachers to improve standards, etc.
6. For the first year let the Local Trustee Board plan the projects for the coming year and confirm the detailed budget needed.
7. Let the TKHM Transvaal instruct the Bank to transfer the required amount to be transferred to a current account in the same bank from where the local trustees will draw the amount as needed. No more than the required money be transferred to the current account. If the interest is more than the budget for the ensuing year then let the balance be added to the Deposit Account. (The principal amount must not be used).
8. If this is implemented then the Local Trustees will become more popular among our people for doing real service at grass root level and the Transvaal Mandal SA will take the credit for actually doing great service to our people as our forefathers (who came from various Gams) intended.
9. It will do away with the hassle of managing and looking after the Hall which to my mind would be great white elephant and eventually may cause disappointment among our people. In years to come if a Hall is needed then the 20 Crore deposit is is there.
If however it is decided to build a Hall then I suggest the following be be noted.
If the plan to build a Hall is accepted it must be appreciated that we are talking in terms of not lakhs but several crores of rupees.
It must be appreciated that a building project cannot be realised by relying on donations. Neither South Africa, India nor any other of our overseas population is going to raise any substantial amount of money to be able to fulfil our dreams.
Our Community in Navsari has four pieces of very valuable land all acquired by our forefathers from various Gams who immigrated to South Africa. One of them is fully developed but not fully used. If all the four sites were under one management, one of the site could be sold and construction can be taken in hand. This does not seem possible.
It seems to me that neither the Navsari Keraveni Trust which controls Koli Ashram and Nutan Society site and the South Gujarat Keraveni Trust which controls the Chhapra Road site are not ready to cooperate in developing TKHM Site.
So the alternative for TKHM is to go it alone.
All the three sites are in a highly sought after area and commands high price. Navsari is developing fast and I am sure a number of developers would have their eyes on these sites. I am convinced that if the TKHM and the Samaj take no action in the next few years the TKHM site and the other non-developed sites will be forcefully acquired by the Government or some interested party and would be lost forever to the community. The TKHM site has a number of court cases pending and have proved troublesome to resolve
A number of our prominent people have a very substantial voice in the community. Now that the development subject has been raised again it becomes the duty of people like these to examine the pros and cons of all the plans and advise the community on the best way forward.
From what I hear Babubhai is not regarded very highly there. But it must be appreciated that he is a businessman. He is like any other businessman. No developer will take on a job if he does not see any profit for himself. Whether we choose Babubhai or anyone else our costs are not going to be any different. Other developers and contractors may be worse. It is better to deal with the devil we know. Babubhai is from our community and has to live in it. He will think hard before taking advantage of his own community.
Cost are escalating daily and the longer we put off, the more it will cost and as now we shall never afford it and will in the long run be worse off.
If the route to build the Hall is decided on I have a final suggestion.
Have the TKHM site valued by a registered valuer. Have the Babubhai’s site valued also. See if from the difference we can build a top grade multipurpose Community Hall and other facilities. Compare this with what Babubhai is offering and decide accordingly.
I thought I will communicate my ideas here. I do not want to influence anyone. Simply to urge people to seriously consider, take action soon or be prepared to wait indefinitely and be condemned as the generation that failed to serve the community as was the dream of our forefathers who invested so much in the hope of helping the community to progress.
Decisive leadership is the need of the day. I hope SA will consider all the options very carefully and provide bold leadership.
May Shree Krishna give you all the good sense to put the welfare of the Samaj first.
Keshavlal J Patel.