A scrap merchant’s solution to a looming demolition threat against his alleged unauthorised construction has caught the officials of the Bharuch-Ankleshwar Urban Development Authority (BAUDA) off guard. Mohanlal Gupta, who allegedly constructed an additional floor in a building he had bought last year, has now built a “temple” with the idols of Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman. What more, statues resembling Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath stand ‘guard’ outside the rooftop shrine.
Gupta, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, also went a step ahead and inaugurated the temple atop the purported illegal scrap godown on January 22 to coincide with the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya by PM Modi.
The scrap merchant’s unprecedented move came soon after BAUDA officials inspected the building following a complaint by Mansukh Rakhasiya, resident of Jantanagar society in Gadkhol village of Ankleshwar. After fresh complaints about the rooftop temple, BAUDA officials Tuesday visited the spot and found that Gupta had constructed an additional floor without prior permission.
BAUDA has now given him seven days to submit necessary documents. However, according to Gupta, Jitendra Oza, from whom he had bought the property last year, had already taken permission for the construction from Gadkhol Gram Panchayat in 2012.
Gupta alleged that envious people have complained against the structure. “I have made changes to the property by demolishing some parts. There are some people who are jealous of me and are threatening to get the structure demolished. They have also demanded money from me. They reside in a residential society far from our Riddhi Siddhi society,” he said.
According to Rakhasiya’s first complaint, lodged on July 11, 2023, “no prior permission was taken” for alleged illegal constructions, including that of Gupta’s, in three residential societies of the village.
Apart from Gupta’s two-storey building in the Riddhi Siddhi residential society, one built by Ramjikumar Maurya in Arunodaynagar Society and another by Ravi Vishwakarma at Niravkunj Society were the other two named by the complainant.
After the complaint failed to elicit action, he filed another application before Bharuch District Collector Tushar Sumera on December 1. Following this, BAUDA officials visited the site for an inspection on December 21.
On January 1 this year, Rakhasiya followed it up with a letter to Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel detailing about the three constructions. This time, he also demanded that strict action be taken against BAUDA officials for their inaction.
On Tuesday, the BAUDA team visited the site again after Rakhasiya contacted them again with photos and videos from the inaugural event, invitations for which were extended to the village sarpanch and residents.
Gadkhol village Sarpanch Manjulaben Patel said she did not attend the inauguration, but has learnt that a “large number of people attended the event”. Photos and videos of the event have since gone viral on social media.
BAUDA incharge town planner Nitin Patel told The Indian Express that they have given seven days to Gupta to submit necessary documents of the plot and other details. “Primarily, it has been found that the entire building was not renovated (as was claimed), but newly constructed. Gupta stays in a house just opposite to the new building at Riddhi Siddhi society. It is a residential society and he uses this building for commercial purposes. He had also made two shutters… After seven days, on the basis of documents submitted by Gupta, further actions will be taken,” he said.
Further, he explained that Gupta had done sale deed documents in the name of his wife Kiran on January 21, 2023, after purchasing the structure from Oza. “The sale deed document shows only the ground floor, but our team found a newly constructed building of ground plus one floor and terrace with a temple on the roof on Tuesday,” he said. He added that Gupta uses a common open plot, behind the scrap godown, for keeping waste gunny bags. “However, no construction activity has been done on it,” Patel added.
Rakhasiya, however, alleged that authorities have taken no action against illegal constructions in the village. “We have also written to Bharuch Collector Tushar Sumera and Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and demanded that actions should be taken,” he told The Indian Express, adding that the rooftop temple with the statues was Gupta’s “smart” move to save his property from getting demolished.
Meanwhile, Gupta alleged that the complainant has been threatening him regularly. “I have built the temple on the rooftop and installed statues of PM Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogiji. I believe Mansukh and others did not like it. They are threatening me regularly. I request the district authorities to protect me from such people,” he said.