BMC orders inquiry into Ambedkar Bhavan demolition

The civic body’s move comes after CM Fadnavis announced last month that there would be a thorough inquiry into the matter.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai | Published: August 16, 2016 12:19:13 am
ambedkar, ambedkar bhavan, ambedkar bhavan demolition, bombay high court, Buddha Bhushan printing press, ambedkar printing press, india news, latest news Part of the Ambedkar Bhavan, Dadar, and the printing press there were demolished on June 25, sparking protests. Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has initiated an inquiry against officials who declared the Ambedkar Bhavan building in Dadar East a dilapidated and dangerous structure, and subsequently issued a notice to raze the building.

The civic body’s move comes after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced last month that there would be a thorough inquiry into the matter. Complaints had emerged that there had been a conspiracy with the involvement of civic officials to declare the structure dilapidated.

The building housed the Buddha Bhushan printing press started by Dr B R Ambedkar. Part of the building and the press were demolished on June 25, with the People’s Improvement Trust (PIT), which controls the property, promising a grand 17-storey Ambedkar Bhavan on the plot.

This led to immediate protests by various Dalit groups, including the family members of Dr B R Ambedkar.

Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has appointed Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone VII) Ashok Khaire as the inquiry officer to probe into the case. Khaire has been directed to submit a detailed report at the earliest.

Senior officials in the BMC said the probe would cover all aspects related to the demolition.

Statements of the engineers at the local ward office, engineers from the building proposals (BP) department who granted the intimation of disapproval (IOD) for the new structure and engineers from the water supply and assessment department would be recorded, said a senior official.

“The statements of all those concerned, including the ward officer and the deputy chief engineer of the BP department, will be recorded. After that, a report will be prepared,” the officer added.

Another official said two separate structural audit reports had been sought from the PIT before a notice for demolition was issued on June 1.

“The first structural audit report was submitted last year. A fresh structural audit report was submitted in May,” the official said.

Also, an opinion on the audit report was sought from the engineers of the BP department who stated that an IOD has been granted and the existing building needs to be demolished for redevelopment. So, it seems the due process of law has been followed in the case,” the official added.

However, senior officials are tight-lipped about any action against civic staffers.

“More than political, it has now become a judicial issue. The issued of declaring the building dangerous has been raised in a PIL filed against the demolition in the High Court,” said the official, admitting that the issue is likely to be politicised further with the upcoming civic elections.

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