DDA allots land in South Delhi’s city forest for rebuilding Ravidas temple
A year after the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the Guru Ravidas temple in the Jahapanah city forest in South Delhi’s Tughlaqabad, in pursuance of a Supreme Court order, the land-owning agency has initiated the process to hand over the site to devotees.
A proposal to change the land use and allot 400 square metres (sqm) of land in the city forest for the construction of a temple was approved by a DDA meeting, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Friday.
The L-G later tweeted, “Chaired Delhi Development Authority meeting. The Authority approved key proposals for allotment of land for construction of Guru Ravidas temple at Jahapanah city forest & reduction in Minimum Reserve Price for auction of land for Educational & Health facilities (sic).”
While DDA has approved the land-use change, a nod from the forest department and other necessary permissions from other departments concerned are awaited. Last month, the DDA’s technical committee had approved a proposal to change the land use of a 400sqm plot, the site where the temple had stood, from “recreational” to “public/semi-public”.
“The proposal to change the land use and allot it to the committee has been approved. Further processes such as obtaining approval from the forest department and the formation of the devotees’ committee, etc., will follow. We have written to the forest department. We will send the proposal to the Union housing and urban affairs ministry for a final notification,” a senior DDA official said, on condition of anonymity.
A second DDA official said, “As an exception in this particular case, the authority has dispensed with ”auction” as the only mode of land allotment.”
Forest department officials did not comment on the issue.
Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and MLA Somnath Bharti, who is a member of the DDA, said, “In the last meeting, I had observed that the DDA should consider giving the land back to the Guru Ravidas Samiti without any further delay. Today the DDA has passed the matter. We are happy that this historic work has taken place. The AAP raised the issue and the court also had a hearing on the issue. But today I am happy that due to the persuasion of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the DDA has passed these two decisions (land allotment and land-use change). Now there will be no problem in rebuilding the Ravidas temple.”
In August last year, the DDA had demolished the temple in pursuance of a Supreme Court order. This had led to large-scale protests by devotees of Guru Ravidas in Delhi and several other parts of north India. In November 2019, the Supreme Court had allowed the reconstruction of a temple at the same location.
But devotees of Guru Ravidas want the process to be expedited and items confiscated by the DDA at the time of demolition returned. “It has been over a year, but the DDA is yet to allot a site for the construction of the temple. Devotees want the area to be handed over at the earliest. We want the adjourning area, measuring 12,350 square yards, where the sarovar is located, to be developed and given to the committee,” said MR Balli, general secretary of the 11-member committee that was constituted following the apex court order.
A senior DDA official clarified, “The land allotment is as per the Supreme Court order and as per the land allotment norms.”
The DDA said the land parcel can be allotted to a registered religious committee only. “But currently, there is no such committee,” the official said.
Balli said, “We were told about this issue. We have recently applied under the Societies Act to register our committee.”
BJP MLA Vijender Gupta, who is a member of DDA, said, “It is an important decision. Our government at the Centre had assured the devotees that all necessary measures would be taken. The land-use change has been approved and the authority has decided to give the land to the devotees of Guru Ravidas.”
The DDA meeting Friday also approved a proposal to allow stockists and dealers of medicines to operate from residential areas. It gave a go-ahead for the development of a sports complex in east Delhi.
“To provide modern sports facilities to residents of east Delhi, the land use of 19,800 sqm in Shastri Park will be changed from recreational to “public/semi-public”,” a third official, on condition of anonymity, said.
The official added, “All land-use changes approved by the authority will be put in the public domain for suggestions/ objections. These will be sent to the ministry for a final approval and due notifications.”
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