New Delhi, Jul 19: The Centre today assured that it would speak to Maharashtra government to get the demolished Ambedkar Bhavan at Dadar in Mumbai restored as a memorial.
The assurance came after opposition parties in Rajya Sabha vociferously demanded rebuilding of the heritage building that was brought down last month.
"It is a serious issue. We will talk to the state government and attempt to get it restored as memorial," Minister for Social Justice Thawar Chand Gehlot said. "We have taken cognizance of the demolition." Had the building not been demolished, it would have been better, he said after Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) raised the issue through a zero hour mention.
Yechury said the state government and the municipality have not just demolished a heritage structure, but a building that represents the "heritage of freedom movement, a building that represents heritage of the dalit movement."
The building was built by B R Ambedkar out of his own money to provide place for ostracised dalits at that time. It also housed a printing press for publishing dalit literature.
The CPI(M) leader said all structures of social justice like the Planning Commission have been demolished by the BJP-led government. With the unwinding of Planning Commission, there are no longer sub-plans made for uplift of the dalit community.
"Not only a physical structure of social justice but a vision of social justice has been demolished," Yechury said. Anand Sharma (Cong) said the government cannot remain silent on the issue.
Mayawati (BSP) said while the government talks of buying and converting the room in London where Ambedkar spent his days, a building built on the land bought by him out of his own money has been demolished.
She demanded rebuilding of a grand structure at the site of the demolition. With other opposition members joining the demand, Gehlot said the government has given respect to all symbols associated with Ambedkar.
Amar Shankar Sable (BJP) said the state government was no way involved in the demolition of the building and it was done by People's Improvement Trust.
The Ambedkar Bhavan and the Buddha Bhushan printing press started by Babasaheb Ambedkar were demolished by People's Improvement Trust last month claiming that it was dilapidated and a grand 'Ambedkar Bhavan' would come up in its place. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the government has accepted that the building has been demolished and it will be restored.