Notice says Rai refused to vacate the Lajpat Nagar bungalow which is several times larger than the bungalows allotted to Union ministers
NEW DELHI: Brace yourself for this shocking news: a senior bureaucrat has demolished a 15th-century monument and built a sprawling bungalow for himself in the upscale Lajpat Nagar area of South Delhi.
Udit Prakash Rai, a 2007-batch IAS officer, is now facing an investigation by the vigilance department for getting the ‘Mahal of Pathan Period’ razed to the ground. These alarming developments occurred when Rai was serving as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). Currently posted in Mizoram, he was served a notice by the vigilance department in April.
The matter came to the attention of senior authorities when a team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) visited the site located in Bhagola village near the DTC Bus Terminal in Lajpat Nagar.
According to details accessed by The New Indian, the ASI received information in January 2021 that the ‘Mahal’ was in a dilapidated condition and required immediate attention for conservation. When officials from the Department of Archaeology visited the site, they found that the monument, constructed with brick masonry and red sandstone, featured a three-arched ‘dalan’ on the north and south sides. The roof of the southern ‘dalan’ and the red stone ‘chhajja’ had disappeared.
The monument, believed to have a connection to the city of Khizr Khan, founded around 1418 AD, was under the control of the DJB, which had fenced it and locked it.
Instead of handing over the site to the Art, Culture, and Languages Department of Delhi to declare it a protected monument, Rai took steps to get the area allotted to him as his residence with the alleged connivance of officials, as per the vigilance notice.
When ASI officials visited the site in January this year, only the gateway remained, while the main building had been converted into a bungalow.
The vigilance notice also implicated five DJB engineers, including Chief Engineer Virender Kumar.
Officials state that the demolition violated the Delhi Building Bye-Laws and the Conservation of Heritage Sites. They further add that Rai was fully aware of the heritage significance of the building.
Furthermore, Rai was found to have violated the rules of General Pool Residential Accommodation by occupying a 550 sqm bungalow, which is larger than the equivalent of 94 houses of Type V(A), each having a size of 106 sqm. The property has a built-up area of 700 sqm.
“He is personally as well as jointly responsible for the restitution of the Heritage Monument, which is a listed monument, to its original condition. He is also responsible for refusing to vacate the residence premises, though a notice to vacate the same was issued by the DJB,” the notice reads.
Rai has also been accused of refusing to vacate the residence premises, despite a notice from the DJB ordering him to do so.
The vigilance notice concluded that Rai misused his official position for personal gain, actively facilitating the demolition of the ancient monument and disregarding public interest and rules.
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