Pune civic body razes India’s first girls’ school to build national memorialtext_fields
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in the early hours of Tuesday, pulled down the dilapidated structure of Bhide Wada, where social reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule started the first girls’ school in the country in 1848.
The PMC is planning to build a national memorial, set to come up on the same 272.57 sq meter plot and will be dedicated to the social reformer couple, the officials said.
The municipal corporation plans to finalise the design within eight days, following which work will begin at the site, officials said.
PMC had earlier made a plan for the national memorial comprising a two-storey building with the first floor earmarked for a museum and a school and an auditorium proposed on the second floor. However, considering the national importance of the site, PMC recently invited suggestions from architects from the city regarding the memorial.
Earlier a few of its occupants, including shop owners and traders refused to cooperate with the PMC initiative and vacate the site. However, the PMC went ahead, forcibly acquiring the property and pulling it down.
The Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court recently cleared the way for the PMC to build the national memorial at the site and ordered shop owners and tenants at the dilapidated structure to vacate the premises.
“The Supreme Court had recently given the go-ahead to PMC to acquire the dilapidated Bhidewada property while giving a month for occupants to willingly give possession to the civic body. The occupants had filed an appeal in the court to review the order but it was turned down. Thus, the property was forcibly acquired,” said Vikas Dhakane, additional municipal commissioner.
A large police force was also deployed in the area as the civic body moved to raze the structure. It was completely demolished around midnight and barricaded.
The state government, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, deputy chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar and other ministers, have also been reportedly pushing for a memorial at Bhide Wada and had declared funding for the development of the memorial. Bhide Wada is located in the Budhwar Peth area of Pune.