After the controversy over the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to seek a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the charity commissioner regarding a dispute on who are the trustees on the board of the People’s Improvement Trust (PIT).
The civic body may also consult its legal department to know whether Intimation of Disapproval (IOD) granted to the Trust can be revoked.
Officials from the Building Proposal department said the civic body’s move comes following a complaint received from V S Asaware claiming that he has been the chairman of the PIT since 2012 and not Yogesh Varhade.
Asaware claims that Varhade and six other trustees are not the original trustees while Varhade claims they are the original trustees.
The dispute on the trustees is pending before the charity commissioner, who is yet to pass his order on it.
As per the report jointly prepared by F South ward office and Building Proposal Department, the civic body has sought a reply from the Trust on Asaware’s claims but it has not yet responded.
“It seems that the Trust has violated the IOD condition which requires consent of tenants or occupiers before carrying out the demolition of the structure. Also, there is a dispute on ownership of the Ambedkar Bhavan. So, it is necessary to seek NOC from the charity commissioner,” says the report. The report further said it is proposed to write to the Trust informing that no work should be carried out until these two issues are resolved.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry against civic officials to probe their role in declaring the building dilapidated, the civic body has defended its move of issuing notice of pull down the building stating that two separate structural audit reports had ‘similar findings’ of structure being dilapidated.
In all, around 15 to 20 percent portion of the Ambedkar Bhavan has been demolished during the demolition carried out by PIT on June 25.
The building housed the Buddha Bhushan printing press started by Dr B R Ambedkar. The building and the press were demolished last month with members of the People’s Improvement Trust stating that it would be replaced by a grand 17-storey Ambedkar Bhavan, leading to immediate protests by various Dalit groups, including the family members of the architect of the Indian Constitution.
Following the demolition, Anandraj Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Ambedkar, lodged an FIR with Bhoiwada police against former IAS officer and State Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad and a trustee of the People’s Improvement Trust, in connection with the demolition. Ratnakar Gaikwad, advisor to the Trust, was unavailable for comment.