Calling the projected expenditure on a memorial to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar ‘extravagant and unaffordable’, a city-based activist has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Bombay High Court against the construction on 125 acre Indu Mill land in Dadar. The activist, Bhagvanji Raiyani, has sought directions from the court to restrain the state government from the construction of the memorial.
“An amount of Rs 425 crore should not be given for construction of the Babasaheb Memorial as the public money cannot be spent for so-called memorial for the memory of the great departed leader,” the PIL reads. The petitioner said the actual cost will exceed Rs 1,000 crore and that the expenditure is a violation of the government policy and a Supreme Court judgement of 2013 that bars the construction of memorials on government land.
“If the followers of a particular leader want to construct memorial in memory of their leader, they have to raise funds from themselves or other philanthropic sources, buy land and raise the memorial,” reads the PIL filed by senior advocate Mukesh Vashi late last month. The PIL is expected to be heard after the summer break. The proposed memorial will cover about 7.4 hectares of Indu Mill land, acquired by the state government from the National Textile Corporation for the project.
Raiyani has also contended that when the state is reeling under debt and farmers are dying every year because of drought, the state should stop spending money on memorials. He has sought directions from the court to allot the mill land to build amenities such as hospitals and education centres. The petition has also prayed for a stay on the construction till the final disposal of the petition.