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Ambedkar Bhavan demolition: BJP speaks up, govt says demolition ‘unofficial, wrong’

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said if there is a new plan by consensus to redevelop Ambedkar Bhavan, the state would be willing to implement the project on its own.

| Mumbai | Published: July 21, 2016 4:51:01 am
Ambedkar Bhavan demolition, ambedkar bhavan, devendra fadnavis, maharashtra, maharashtra cm, maharashtra chief minister, br ambedkar, maharashtra news, latest news, india news, bjp A massive rally was held against the demolition Tuesday. (Express Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday waded into the controversy over the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis calling the action unlawful.

Fadnavis said if there is a new plan by consensus to redevelop Ambedkar Bhavan, the state would be willing to implement the project on its own. The chief minister had on April 14, Dr. B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, conducted a bhoomipujan for the redevelopment of Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar into a 17-storey structure by the People’s Improvement Trust, which Ambedkar had constituted.

Replying to a calling attention motion by Shiv Sena’s Neelam Gorhe in the state legislative council, Fadnavis said that the demolition conducted on June 25 in the middle of the night without informing the police or the fire brigade was not official, and was wrong. He assured that the building wil be restored by month end.

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Fadnavis said, “While accepting any programme, the chief minister’s office ensures that all approvals are in place and documents are in order, which they were in this case. The property card had the names of the trustees. But, I received a call from Prakash Ambedkar afterwards who informed me about the dispute over the matter and I gave instructions to the urban development department and the police to not take any further action till there is clarity.”

The chief minister said that the demolition order was only for the Ambedkar Bhavan building and not for the printing press, which the trust partially pulled down as part of the demolition. “There was no reason to touch the printing press. There will also be an inquiry to see if the demolition notice to the building was given as per rules. Further, we will send a proposal to the BMC to give a heritage tag to the printing press,” Fadnavis said.

With several legislators demanding the removal of former bureaucrat Ratnakar Gaikwad as State Information Commissioner considering his involvement with the Peoples Improvement Trust, Fadnavis said the state government will prepare a report and submit it to the Governor.

“The post of a State Information Commissioner is a constitutional post and the state government cannot make any appointments or dismissals. Only the Governor has these powers, so we will prepare a factual report about Ratnakar Gaikwad’s involvement and send it to the Governor’s office,” the chief minister said.

The BJP-led state government, which was officially silent on the demolition until now, also plans to oppose the bail pleas of members of the Peoples Improvement Trust against whom Ambedkar’s grandsons have filed an FIR.

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