Tuesday 17th January 2017 issue of Mid-day carried an article titled “Bawajis will now eat idlis?”, a satirical barb on the appointment of a first non Parsi Chairman of Tata Sons, a South Indian, Mr. N. Chandrasekaran. This satire has gone viral on whatsApp and other social media about the differences of Parsi culture and cuisine with the South Indian one.

In the said article, Kersi Randeria, Managing Trustee and Defecto Chairman of BPP is quoted to have said “of course the Chair will go to competent person. If they give it to a fool like me, the company will close down” Even if said in a light hearted jocular fashion, the same is in poor taste and perhaps shows his mindset by speaking the truth of his own capabilities.

When one looks at the present financial condition of BPP, one is shocked that Trustee Yazdi Desai openly proclaims to all and sundry that BPP is bankrupt and has no funds for any additional activity, including repairs of its own properties.

The earlier Board had created a corpus and deposit quantum of over Rs.300 crores which would yield well over Rs. 20 crores only as Interest every year. This is sufficient for all the welfare needs of the community. Where then have things gone so wrong by this new board that they complain all the time about lack of funds with BPP. As an example, the Rs. 22 lakhs cash is rotting away in the sealed CEO’s cupboard since September 2014 earning no interest on it.

The earlier Board during its term had not increased parking charges, service charges, water charges, etc. but the new Board within one year of its taking over has doubled the parking charges, increased the service charges by at least Rs. 800/-pm and are still considering various options to further increase recovery from beneficiaries for water charges and other services.

Due to paucity of funds, the Trustees have materially reduced the donations being given to applicants for medical aid as well as for education and tuitions, full time practicing mobeds have not been paid their promised monthly incentive of Rs.10,000/- for the last more than 12 months, the second and third child recipients have not recently been paid their promised incentive of Rs.3,000/- & Rs.5,000/- pm, doles to the poor are not paid in time. The latest scandal is the sudden refusal by the Trustees to pay 50% share of repairs of BPP buildings which was the norm since decades. Now the Trustees brazenly tell the occupants who approach them for sharing repairs cost to bear the full cost at present and they would reimburse them in future as and when funds are available.

It seems that Kersi Randeria has correctly predicted that “if they give it (chairmanship of Tata Trust) to a fool like me, the company will close down”. The performance of the new Board is abysmal in view of all the above predicaments being faced by the beneficiaries.

Their only saving grace has been the more than 100 vacant flats luckily inherited by the new Board due to the Stay Order obtained by Yazdi Desai against any allotment since November 2013. The New Trustees through this inheritance have been able to allot more than 100 houses in 2016 which actually should have been done 2013 itself by the earlier Trustees but for their in fighting due to which they have been crowing about their allotments as if they have achieved something great.

It is a sad state of affairs that even after a year with all their grand promises, the new Trustees have not been able to get the Godrej Baug ownership building completed nor the Navsari ownership building which has been ready for sale since last over two years have not been able to encash its value of well over Rs. 10 crores due to their poor management bordering on mismanagement.

Randeria is right that the community having elected a fool like him, to repeat his own words, is wily nilly bringing down the BPP and it is high time he acknowledged his own words and resigned from the Board so that a more worthy individual can replace him and bring BPP back to its earlier glory.

But will he? It is so sad that there is no right of recall of a non-performing Trustee in which case perhaps the whole Board should step down and face the community again for a fresh mandate. How long will the community continue to suffer from this non-performing board?

Published on Bombay Samachar