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The case of lack of maintenance of the samadhi of Bapu (Father of the Nation) Mahatama Gandhi) at Rajghat, the Delhi High Court bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar on Wednesday (July 4) ordered that not only should the site be made disabled friendly, but also to list all trees planted by dignitaries at the site and a detailed study of their condition.

The Additional Secretary, Ministry of Urban Affairs Manoj Kumar was present in court. He said that the meeting was chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Urban Affairs. The bench was not impressed. It said: “Don’t create a sense that everything is alright we will take a stern view.”

The DG CPWD said: “We have been maintaining the Rajghat. The Additional Solicitor General will come and argue.” To that the bench commented: “You are talking about Rajghat. Why is the ASG required? Is this some question of law? You have been maintaining it only after we have started issuing directions. It is covered under the ASI Act. Photographs shows the condition of Rajghat. We don’t like to call the public officers to the court. It was only when the water went well above the head that we did.”

The CPWD said they needed funds to start and that is in the hands of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

The bench asked: “How many trees have been planted by dignitaries and how many of those are alive? Rajghat should have been a forest by now. Give us the list of trees planted by the dignitaries and when and how many are alive by now. This is a gross disrespect to the world leaders who come to India.”

Then the bench ordered: “We are informed that the meeting was held on June 21, as per the order of the court under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Let the outcome of the deliberations be placed before us. After the last meeting, a conservationist of the ASI (Superintendent Archeologist) has been consulted and a report was submitted. Let the same be placed before us in an affidavit within 10 days.

We are assured by the Kumar and DG CPWD that the horticulture experts of DDA and NDMC will be joined for preservation and landscaping. Secretary Rajghat Committee recieved the estimates regarding the work advanced proposal be forwarded to KP Ravindra for his expert opinion.

“The respondents shall ensure that the suggestions made by Nipun Malhotra to make the site disabled friendly.

“It’s a disservice to the memory of the Mahatama, look at the sacrifice of the Mahatama.”

The court also said: “The CPWD shall place a list of the trees planted at Rajghat in tabular form, with date on which it is planted, who was the dignitary planted it, which kind of tree, current status of that tree.” The court also said that the physical inspection of the trees should be done by July 26.

The court said: “The Deputy Director General DDG (horticulture) shall be present in the court to tell us the steps taken to preserve the trees and improvement of the landscape.”

The matter has been adjourned to July 26.

– India Legal Bureau

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