Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athawale today welcomed the Centre’s announcement regarding handing over of the India United (Indu) Mill land here for the construction of a memorial to Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Reacting to Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma’s statement on the issue in the Lok Sabha today, Athawale thanked the Centre and said, “The long pending demand of lakhs of followers of Ambedkar has been fulfilled.”

The State Government should now help expedite the process of actual transfer of the land by April 14, a party spokesperson said, quoting Athawale.

Scores of Ambedkar followers are expected to gather here tomorrow, the death anniversary of the architect of the Constitution.

Earlier, Athawale had threatened to forcibly take over land at the defunct mill, located near Shivaji Park in central Mumbai, if the Centre did not announce handing over of the mill land for construction of the memorial.

The agitation has been called off following today’s announcement in the Lok Sabha, RPI said.

On Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had met Sharma for the second time in the past week to finalise the modalities of land transfer from the National Textile Corporation that owns 12.5 acres of vacant land in the Indu Mill compound.

The Textile Ministry had set up a high-powered committee for the land transfer. After completion of some technicalities, the committee’s recommendations will be implemented, official sources said.

Chavan had appealed to the leaders of all parties not to use the memorial issue for political gain and desist from trying to take credit for it.

On December 6 last year, Dalit activists and monks led by Ambedkar’s grandson Anandraj Ambedkar and RPI had forcibly entered the Indu Mill premises and erected a makeshift memorial. They vacated the premises after Chavan promised to take up the issue with the Centre.

(This article was published on December 5, 2012)
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