Delhi vigilance dept notice to IAS officer, 5 DJB engineers for demolishing 15th-century monument
The monument, the only remnant of the Khizrabad city founded by Khizr Khan of the Sayyid dynasty, was located at Jal Vihar area near Lajpat Nagar in southeast Delhi
The Delhi government's vigilance department has served a notice to senior IAS officer Udit Prakash Rai for the construction of an official accommodation following the demolition of a 15th-century monument during his tenure as DJB's chief executive officer.
The department has also issued show cause notices to five Delhi Jal Board (DJB) engineers for their alleged connivance in the demolition of the monument and construction of the official residence of the board's CEO.
The engineers with administrative responsibilities in the Board have been asked to furnish their replies in two weeks.
The monument, a "Mahal" (palace) of the Pathan period and the only remnant of the Khizrabad city founded by Khizr Khan of the Sayyid dynasty was located at Jal Vihar area near Lajpat Nagar in southeast Delhi.
Multiple political parties, including the BJP and Trinamool Congress, have demanded action over the demolition of the monument.
"Only in India. Fifteenth-century monument demolished to construct govt officer's bungalow. Are the Archaeological Survey of India and Ministry of Culture napping yet again? Urging G Kishan Reddy (Union Minister For Culture and Tourism) to look at this," TMC MP Mahua Moitra tweeted.
Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva, in a letter to the Delhi LG, demanded a high-level probe into the matter.
The monument was in the process of being handed over to the Archaeology department by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). However, in a joint inspection by the department and DJB in January this year, it was found missing, said the vigilance department's notice issued on Wednesday.
Rai has been given two weeks to respond to the notice. In August 2022, Delhi L G V K Saxena recommended to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) action against Rai for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 50 lakh.
A 2007 batch IAS officer of AGMUT cadre, Rai is currently posted in Mizoram. No reaction was immediately available from him over the Vigilance department notice.
The monument was mentioned in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) list of 'Muhammadan and Hindu monuments' of Delhi. It comprised a palace (mahal) and a gateway that still exists while the former was gone, said the notice.
The 'Mahal' comprised three arched dalan flanked by two compartments built with red sandstone and brick masonry.
The notice cited notes of DJB officials mentioning that the monument was in a dilapidated state and was to be handed over to the archaeology department for immediate intervention to save it after a visit in January 2021.
"By his commissions and omissions, the officer actively facilitated the demolition of the ancient monument and prevented the same from getting handed over to the archaeology department for its protection," the notice claimed.
It said that the inspection report following the visit on January 12, 2023, mentioned that the monument was not seen in the precincts of the residential complex owned by DJB.
"The Mahal of Pathan period was allegedly demolished as per the directions of Udit Prakash Rai, CEO (DJB) with the help of DJB engineers," the notice said naming five engineers of the Board.
A top DJB officer said the Vigilance Department was seized of the matter and any further action against the engineers involved will be considered as per rules.
Rai was entitled to a Type V government accommodation but the built-up area of the new house for the DJB CEO that had been constructed in place of the monument was 700 square metres. It exceeded the prescribed area of 403 square metres for a Type VIII accommodation, added the notice.
The Delhi BJP chief, in the letter to the Lt Governor, said a high-level probe was needed as a 15th-century monument was demolished for the "illegal" construction of the DJB CEO's residence.
The revelation of the construction of DJB CEO's bungalow violating laws during Covid after a similar revelation of spending Rs 45 crore on the Delhi chief minister's bungalow, "speaks volumes" about the "insensitivity" of Arvind Kejriwal government, alleged Sachdeva.
He also demanded a probe into the role of the former minister Satyendar Jain, under whom Rai worked, in the matter.
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