HC shocked over maintenance of Rajghat, constitute committee

New Delhi, Feb 19: Lack of maintenance of the Rajghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi here, and insufficient public facilities like drinking water and toilets, today shocked the Delhi High Court which ordered setting up of a panel to inspect the site and suggest steps for its restoration.

During the hearing of a PIL, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the memorial was visited by people from across the world and deserved to be respected and maintained properly.

The bench even pulled up the Rajghat Samadhi Committee, entrusted with maintaining the memorial, and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), saying they fail to perform their statutory duties.

It ordered setting up up of a committee including one members from the authorities concerned, Agha Khan Foundation, which is into restoration of several historical site of national importance and one Nipun Malhotra, on whose plea the court had earlier ordered a disability audit of government buildings in the national capital.

It directed the committee members to inspect the site and and point out deficiencies.

It asked them to submit a detailed status report with regard to the work needed to be done to protect the memorial by the next date of hearing, March 6.

The court had earlier observed that can a place of worship be kept in an “unhygienic” and “deplorable” manner.

The court was hearing a hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) which alleged that Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial was not being properly maintained.

Petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey claimed that the memorial “was not at all being properly and cleanly maintained”, and despite being brought to the notice of the committee and Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), there has been no change in the situation.

In the PIL, Chouksey has submitted photos of alleged deficiencies that he had come across during his visit to the monument in 2014 and then again in 2015 and 2016, when he claimed the situation had worsened.

He has alleged there were betel stains at the entrance, broken floor tiles, rubbish lying all around the monument, the white marble has turned black due to lack of cleaning while the green carpet laid for visitors to walk was damaged.

Two toilets were in very poor condition and unclean, and at many places sewage lines are exposed and filled with garbage, becoming “breeding place for mosquitoes and other insects”. (Agencies)