Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday described the Centre’s decision to hand over the 12.5-acre Indu Mill land for a state-of-the-art memorial for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as “historic”.
“This is a historic decision announced in Parliament. This will be an inspiration to the movement of equality and social justice,” he said, speaking to reporters here.
The memorial is to come up in Dadar in Central Mumbai, on land once owned by the now-defunct Indu Mill and now under the possession of the National Textile Corporation (NTC).
Union Textiles Minister Anand Sharma announced in Parliament the Maharashtra government’s decision to avail itself of the Indu Mill land for the construction of a befitting memorial.
At the same time, Mr. Chavan exhorted political parties in the State not to play politics over the memorial — an issue that has been a political hot potato for several months now.
“Leaders of all parties have played a role, while the Prime Minister saw it through its hurdles,” Mr. Chavan said, urging leaders and parties to desist from playing ‘credit-taking’ politics on the matter.
Maharashtra to bear entire cost
The State government will be bearing the entire cost of the memorial project and will henceforth take care of the land. The Union Cabinet will take further decisions on the process, the Chief Minister said.
A Bill will have to be passed in Parliament for transfer of the land for the memorial project.
“A separate authority will be set up for the purpose and an architect will be appointed as a consultant to prepare the blueprint for the memorial,” informed Mr. Chavan. The authority is said to comprise seven members, including three from the State government, while the rest will be from the Centre.
However, he refused to divulge details of the expenditure for the project.
The NTC had initially demanded a compensation of Rs. 3,600 crore citing prevalent market rates in the region. Sources say the issue is expected to be settled by the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) route.
The memorial is to be modeled on the basis of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Samadhi’ at Rajghat.
“Several laws had to be amended during the land transfer process so that there were no legal hurdles,” said Mr. Chavan.
The Urban Development department had earlier amended reservation of the mill land from a “special industrial zone” to “Grand Memorial of Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar” by issuing a notification inviting suggestions and objections on December 1.
Activists of the Republican Party of India (Athawale) had threatened to forcibly enter the mill land if no announcement was made before Ambedkar’s death anniversary on December 6.
Following the announcement, RPI (A) president Ramdas Athawale told reporters that the RPI was grateful to the Chief Minister and Central Ministers for the decision and that his party had no desire to take credit for pushing the issue through.