Monument razed to build Delhi Jal Board CEO’s mansion, notice sent

New Delhi: The Vigilance Directorate of the Delhi government on Wednesday booked 2007 batch IAS officer Udit Prakash Rai for allegedly demolishing a historic structure to construct his official residence at Kilokari near Lajpat Nagar on land belonging to the Delhi Jal Board. Issued show cause notice for. (DJB) in 2021-22, when he was posted as its Chief Executive Officer.

The notice also states that as per his seniority, Rai was eligible for Type V government accommodation of 106 sqm, but he built and occupied a bungalow with a built-up area of 700 sqm on a plot of 5,500 sqm. The house was built at a cost of Rs 4 crore. Rai is currently posted in Mizoram and has not vacated the bungalow despite reminders by the DJB.

“By his commission and omission, the officer has actively facilitated the demolition of the ancient monument and prevented the Archaeological Department from being entrusted with its safeguarding,” the notice said.

“Thus, Udit Rai misused his official position for personal gains at the cost of others in gross violation of public interest and rules. Therefore, he is directed to submit his explanation as to why disciplinary action cannot be recommended under the AIS Rules for his serious misconduct… He may submit his reply within two weeks,” the notice added.

Rai did not respond to TOI’s phone calls and messages. He is currently posted as Commissioner and Secretary in the Department of Social Welfare and Tribal Affairs in Mizoram. Apart from the DJB CEO, he has held important positions in the Health and Family Welfare, Irrigation and Flood Control and Education departments in the Government of Delhi.

The historical structure in question is a ‘Pathan period palace’, built in the 15th century in Bhagola village (the old name of the area). Built of brick masonry and red sandstone, the main features of the structure were three arched dalans (passageways) on the north and south, each with two compartments in two compartments.

The ancient structure is listed as a mahal (palace) in Volume IV of the ‘Inventory of Muhammadan and Hindu Monuments’ compiled by the Archaeological Survey of India in the first quarter of the 20th century.

As per the notice, a team from the Archaeological Department visited the location on December 11, 2020 and found two historical structures – an entrance gate and the main building of the historical structure. It wrote to the DJB on January 19, 2021 that the structure was in a dilapidated state and expressed interest in maintaining and protecting it from further decay and damage.

A joint team of DJB’s Land and Property Department and Archeology Department again visited the site on January 12, 2023 and found the entrance gate but the main building had disappeared. To the north of the gateway was a park and to the south and west was the boundary wall of Bungalow No. 2, SDW, Kilokri.

According to the documents, before Rai joined the DJB on October 18, 2021, the agency was in touch with the archeology department to hand over the historic structure, but communication stopped soon thereafter.

After joining the DJB, Rai wrote to its administration on November 23, 2021, to be allotted Bungalow No. 2 in SDW, Kilokri, which was being repaired. However, an investigation by DJB’s own vigilance department revealed that no such cell existed at that time. Images downloaded from Google Earth also indicated excavation work in the area where the historic structure was located.

The vigilance department of DJB also highlighted the alleged violation of rules in hiring the contractor to build the bungalow.