Centre okays Mumbai mill land for Ambedkar memorial

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 13:50 hrs

Mumbai/New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) The central government Wednesday cleared the decks for a memorial to Babasaheb Ambedkar, the "father" of the Indian Constitution, by clearing a plot of land for it in Mumbai.

The decision, termed as "historic", was announced in both houses of parliament Wednesday afternoon, paving the way for transfer of 12.50 acres of land belonging to National Textile Corporation of India to the Maharashtra government for the memorial.

The mill plot is strategically located near Chaityabhoomi, where Ambedkar was cremated Dec 6, 1956, at Dadar by the Arabian Sea.

Since then, the place which was declared as a national monument later, is revered as a spot of pilgrimage. Lakhs of Dalits from all over India will converge there on the occasion of his 56th death anniversary Thursday.

"Respecting the sentiments and in response to the request of government of Maharashtra, and taking note of the unanimous resolution passed by both houses of the Maharashtra legislature, the government of India has taken a view to make this land for use to the government of Maharashtra for the construction of a befitting memorial," Commerce, Textiles and Industries Minister Anand Sharma said in a statement in parliament.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Sharma for taking the "historic" decision.

Since last year, various Dalit and other political parties have demanded that the land of the India United Mills -- or Indu Mills, as it is known popularly -- be handed over for the Ambdkar memorial.

Last December, a group of Dalit activists led by Ambedkar's grandson Anandraj Ambedkar had stormed the mill complex and virtually captured it for a few days.

They also installed statues of Ambedkar and Lord Buddha, but finally vacated the premises after a court order.

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