High Court accepts report of architect on damaged Ambedkar Bhavan


The Bombay High Court on Monday took on record a report submitted by an architect appointed by it to inspect Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar to ascertain the extent of damage caused to the building and printing press run by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar. The report, submitted by architect Shashi Prabhu on 5 August, was perused by Justice S J Kathawala in the court on Monday.

On a plea made by People’s improvement Trust, which runs Ambedkar Bhavan, and Prakash Ambedkar, the judge ordered that copies of the reports may also be furnished to them.

The bench adjourned the matter to August 18 and until then it restrained all the parties concerned from entering the Ambedkar Bhavan premises.

A substantial portion of the structure was demolished recently by People’s Improvement Trust after it was served a notice by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) that the building was in a dilapidated and dangerous condition.

Prabhu was also asked to submit a report on the inventory lying at the ‘Budh Bhushan’ printing press. According to Prakash Ambedkar, periodicals and some magazines were being printed at the press.

His counsel said Ambedkar wanted to visit the premises to ascertain the damage caused to the press, if any. However, the court appointed an architect to inspect the premises and submit a report.

During an earlier hearing, the high court had asked the People’s Improvement Trust and Prakash Ambedkar to redevelop the property jointly. However, Ambedkar’s counsel said he was not agreeable to the suggestion of the high court.

The counsel said Prakash Ambedkar is of the view that Ambedkar Bhavan should be preserved because of its emotional value as B R Ambedkar had got it built.

The high court is hearing an application filed by the People’s Improvement Trust against the proposed rebuilding of the demolished structure through ‘shramdaan’ (voluntary contribution of labour).

On July 29, the high court had restrained people from stepping into Ambedkar Bhavan and rebuild or restore it.  According to the Trust, on June 1 this year it received a notice from Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai directing it to demolish the three structures in the premises as they were in a dilapidated condition.

As per the notice, the Trust started demolition on June 25. However, the same day, followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar, led by Prakash, entered the premises and protested against the demolition.

Prakash Ambedkar has recently urged the followers of the Dalit icon to assemble at the premises on July 30 and rebuild and restore the structure.

According to the Trust, there were three structures in the said premises, which have been demolished. Prakash and his brother Anandraj were occupants of one of the structure. The Trust had informed the High Court earlier that Prakash and Anandraj would be allowed to occupy the proposed 17-storey redeveloped structure in the future.

From one structure, Prakash operated and undertook printing press work and from the other structure, the Trust operated.

The open courtyard along with a hall was often given on rent for public functions to earn funds for the maintenance of the structure, the Trust said.