High Court rejects PIL challenging Rs 20 Crore memorial for social worker

The Bombay High Court has rejected a PIL challenging Maharashtra government's decision to acquire 12 acre land for building a Rs 20-crore memorial for social worker Nanasahen Dharmadhikari at Alibag in Raigad district.

The petition, filed by villagers opposing the memorial, was rejected by Justice A M Khanwilkar yesterday after the state justified its stand to erect the memorial, saying it has a policy of raising statues and memorials for renowned personalities for public purposes.

"The monument being constructed in remembrance of the late Dr Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari is for public purpose and to encourage the continuation of his work and ideals. It has been government's policy to raise statues and monuments of national figures and personalities," an affidavit filed by Ajit Nairale, Tahsildar (Revenue) Raigad Collector office said. The affidavit was filed in reply to a PIL filed by local residents challenging the state government's decision to acquire land for the monument.

The petition said the memorial costing Rs 20 crore is to be built on 12 hectares land on which the villagers have been grazing their cattle since time immemorial. The state government had claimed that it had acquired the land under the Village Panchayats Act.

"Section 51 (1-A) of the Act is attracted when the state government is of the opinion that the property vested in Panchayat is required for the purpose of any national or state development plan or for any other public purpose," the affidavit said.

It further said that the monument is being erected under the District Planning and Development Committee scheme. "It is of immense importance for imparting moral values to the public. The land acquired is at a place where Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari carried out his good work for the villagers," the affidavit said.The high court had earlier directed the government to maintain status quo on the construction.

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