Maharashtra spent Rs 25 lakh on London trips for Ambedkar House

The Maharashtra Government spent over Rs 25 lakh on visits of Ministers and bureaucrats to London to finalise the purchase of the house where Dalit icon B R Ambedkar stayed while pursuing higher studies, an RTI query has revealed.

Also, it has come to light that name of the actual owner of the UK property has not been mentioned in the state government records.

According to a query filed by RTI activist Anil Galgali, the sum of Rs 32 crore paid by the Government to buy the bungalow has been transferred to the solicitor M/s Sedon rather than the property's actual owner.

Information seeking the owner's name and total built up area of the bungalow from the Maharashtra Social Justice Department was forwarded to the Mahatma Phule Backward Development Corporation (MPBDC), which facilitated the deal. MPBDC, too, was not aware of the owner's name.

"The information received states that a total of Rs 25.45 lakh was spent from public exchequer for the travel and stay of Social Justice Ministers Raj Kumar Badole (Cabinet rank) and Dilip Kamble (MoS) and Secretary of the Department Ujjwal Uke.

"They had travelled to London for site visits when the negotiation for the bungalow was on. It is surprising that in spite of spending a huge sum, the Government is unaware of the name of the house owner," Galgali said.

The Government in January this year decided to buy the house at 10 Kings Henry Road in London where Ambedkar lived in 1921-22. In September, it took possession of the 2,050 sq ft three-storey house, where Ambedkar resided while pursuing his doctoral studies at the London School of Economics.

The Government had made a provision of Rs 40 crore to buy the house, which was finally purchased for Rs 32 crore. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London to throw open the home to public.

Fadnavis had earlier said research papers written by the architect of the Constitution, along with some artifacts will be kept on the first and second floors of the house. He had also said two students chosen for scholarships every year will get a chance to reside on the third floor.

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