Owner of Ambedkar’s London house unknown: RTI

Mumbai, Nov 10 (IANS) The owner of the ‘Ambedkar House’ in London — which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit later this week during his upcoming Britain trip — remains a mystery though the Maharashtra government has purchased the historic property, a RTI query revealed on Tuesday.

“The Maharashtra government has finalised the deal to buy the house at a cost of around Rs.32 crore from a special fund, over Rs.25 lakh has been spent on tours there and a firm of solicitors, M/s Sedon, has been paid Rs.3.10 crore,” Right to Information activist Anil Galgali, who sought the information from the state government, told IANS.

Despite all this, the name of the original owner of the place where Ambedkar lived during his education in Britain remains a mystery for reasons unclear so far, claimed Galgali.

Meanwhile, state Minister for Social Justice Rajkumar Badole visited London twice and Principal Secretary Ujjwal Uke visited once and the expenses were borne by Mahatma Phule Backward Development Corporation (MPBDC).

Ambedkar, subsequently conferred with the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna, lived in the property at 10 Kings, Henry Road, NW3 for more than a year in 1921-1922 when he was a student in the British capital.

The property was put up for sale in an open auction for which the central government gave the nod to participate in February 2014 for which M/s Sedon were appointed as solicitors.

The MPBDC informed Galgali in the RTI reply that it had sanctioned funds for Minister Badole and official Uke.

Badole travelled second time to London to sign the MoU, and he will be part of the prime minister’s delegation along with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later this week, for which MPBDC will foot the bill.

The property was bought by the Maharashtra government and it will be converted into a museum-cum-research centre on Ambedkar, but the original owner’s name is nowhere mentioned, Galgali said.

The state government has also deposited Rs.five million with the Indian High Commission in London to carry out minor repairs to the property and put up an exhibition on Ambedkar.

Modi, who is leaving on an official tour to Britain from November 12, is expected to visit Ambedkar House before proceeding to attend the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, a couple of days later.

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