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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Vadodara: Days after row over razing ‘illegal’ structure at mosque, TDO resigns

The VMC, on October 20, had issued a final notice to the mosque to raze the alleged illegal encroachment that has been constructed during the recent renovation of the structure.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara |
Updated: November 5, 2021 4:34:35 pm
The Tandalja masjid in Vadodara. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana )

Days after a controversy broke out over razing an alleged illegal construction at a mosque in the Tandalja area of the city, Town Development Officer (TDO) Jitesh Trivedi of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), who had been facing the flak from local corporators of the BJP, submitted his resignation on Wednesday evening.

While Mayor Keyur Rokadia said that he has requested Trivedi, who is due for retirement next year, to continue in his post, the decision on the resignation will now be taken in the General Board of the VMC as per the procedure since Trivedi is a Class I officer of the civic body.

The VMC, on October 20, had issued a final notice to the mosque to raze the alleged illegal encroachment that has been constructed during the recent renovation of the structure.

The issue was originally raised by local BJP corporator Nitin Donga, who has also submitted an application to the JP Road police station on October 22, citing a death threat for raising the issue of the mosque.

Donga said, “I received a representation from the locals that the mosque, which was renovating its structure, made some illegal encroachments by leaving a margin of only two metres instead of the mandatory six metres. They have included about four metres of mandatory open space into the renovation made to the structure.”

“I raised the issue in the General Board meeting of the VMC and had requested the Municipal Corporation to have the encroachment removed. Accordingly, the VMC had issued notices to the mosque but for some reason, the department concerned has not followed up appropriately,” he said.

Officials of the VMC said that the elected wing had been pressuring Trivedi to initiate action and raze the structure while the VMC had given the trustees of the mosque time to pull down the encroachment on their own.

An official said, “There is a 2006 ruling of the Supreme Court, pertaining to the demolition of religious places of worship. In accordance with the ruling, the VMC has allowed the trust to remove its own encroachment, which they have begun but not yet finished… The VMC had planned to send the anti-encroachment team to raze the structure last week, but because the visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah was due, the civic body was advised against it.”

Mayor Rokadia told The Indian Express that Trivedi’s resignation is not because of any pressure.

Rokadia said, “There was no pressure on the TDO in context to the razing of the mosque. When I spoke to him, he told me that he had been planning to resign due to his ill health… I have told him we cannot accept his resignation and he is a valuable officer… but the decision will be taken by the General Board on his application if he does not withdraw it…”

Rokadia said that the VMC wanted to “amicably” resolve the issue of the illegal construction of the mosque. “We have issued two notices as per the process and a final notice as well to the mosque. They were asked to remove their own encroachment and we gave them a month’s time to do the same. They even agreed to it and began to remove the encroachment. But it has taken a while… The VMC can definitely send its bulldozer to the site of any encroachment if the final notice is left unheeded.”

Trivedi remained unavailable for comment.

As per the final notice of the VMC issued on October 20, the mosque was given seven days’ time to remove its encroachment.

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