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Modi’s economic advisor red-flags ‘illegal temple’ in elite IAS officers’ colony in Delhi

Seeking action, EAC-PM member Ratan Watal has said in his letter to Modi govt that the temple is sitting on state land worth Rs 20-30 crore.

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New Delhi: An unauthorised temple in a plush South Delhi colony for top civil servants has been red-flagged by a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC-PM) in a letter to the Modi government.

Ratan P. Watal, a member secretary in the EAC-PM and also a principal adviser (social sector) in Niti Aayog, said in the letter that the government should take action before the encroachment on state land worth around Rs 20-30 crore gets “informal legitimacy”.

Written in the last week of June, the missive is addressed to Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, housing secretary D.S. Mishra and central vigilance commissioner Sharad Kumar.

The letter

Among other things, Watal said he was surprised that the NBCC, the state-run firm that has constructed the New Moti Bagh residential complex, had allowed this to happen “under its nose” in a “premier government colony”.

“This kind of encroachment by stealth is not possible without the active connivance of personnel in authority,” Watal added in the letter, which has been accessed by ThePrint.

The unauthorised temple, Watal said, had come up in front of the bungalow allotted to him, noting that the encroachers had now occupied approximately 300 square yards of government land.

He also alleged that the temple was being patronised by a large number of civil servants, among others. “The encroachers have also sought the support of some residents to get the encroachment regularised,” Watal wrote.

Approached for comment, Union housing secretary D.S. Mishra told ThePrint that the matter was already in court. “The temple has been here since before the colony came up and the matter is in the court,” he said.

Watal was not available for comment as he is travelling abroad.

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Back to 2012

Besides Watal, some other residents of New Moti Bagh, including members of the residents’ welfare association, have also raised the issue in the past but not much has happened.

The encroachment is said to have started when the colony was first coming up, in 2012. The matter was taken to court, which directed that status quo be maintained till the disposal of the case. However, Watal noted in his letter that this order was being flouted.

“However, I have observed that instead of status quo, there has been significant building activity going on within the encroached perimeter and electricity is also being rampantly used for construction activity,” Watal said in his letter. “This activity has increased during the last few months.”

Senior civil servants living in government colonies told ThePrint that the unauthorised temple in New Moti Bagh was not a rarity.

“With civic authorities turning a blind eye, you will see several such illegal structures inside government colonies. The unauthorised temple inside the Vinay Marg government colony is an example,” said a senior civil servant working in a union ministry on condition of anonymity.

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Prime real estate

New Moti Bagh is prime real estate and according to Samir Jasuja, CEO of PropEquity, a real estate data and analytics platform, land in the area is valued in the range of Rs 7 lakh per square yard.

The value of the encroached government land in question, Watal has written in his letter, would be Rs 20 crore to Rs 30 crore. “If the matter is not resolved it will cause a huge financial loss to the government and also compromise the security of New Moti Bagh residential complex because once the encroachment gets informal legitimacy, then outsiders cannot be stopped from accessing the colony.”

He has suggested that, as an alternative, the NBCC could provide a proper prayer complex. “I believe that this is done in cantonment areas by defence authorities in a regulated manner to assist persons of faith,” he said.

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  1. These kind of occurences are anything but new. Just goes to prove how commonplace corruption is in our society. All the tall talk of our glorious civilizational ethos and grandiose cultural supremacist bakwaas cannot hide the evil rottenness at the core of our primitive society. And surely, someone will write in a comment to justify it in the name of God and religion!

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