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The Delhi High Court today expressed displeasure over keeping a donation box at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial at Rajghat here, saying this was a "disrespectful" gesture to the Father of the Nation. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar sought to know from the Rajghat Samadhi Committee, which maintains the memorial, who had installed the donation box and where do the funds collected in it go. To this, the counsel for Central Public Works Department (CPWD) said it was put up by the Harijan Sevak Sangh, founded by Mahatma Gandhi himself, and the money goes to the organisation. The bench observed that the charity box should not have been kept at the Mahatma Gandhi's memorial. "Is this the respect we are giving to the memorial of the Father of the Nation which is visited by the citizens of India as well as those from abroad.
It deserves every respect and requires to be properly maintained by all concerned," it said. The bench directed the petitioner's counsel to personally verify the actual position related to the public amenities and maintenance of Rajghat and inform the Chief Engineer of CPWD, who will ensure its restoration. It ordered that the Rajghat Samadhi Committee's secretary should ensure that the complaints in this regard are addressed at the earliest. The court sought a compliance report before the next date of hearing, January 30 next year. The court on November 24 had directed the Chief Engineer, CPWD to personally inspect the Rajghat Samadhi and all related premises. It had asked the authorities to place the details of the works which were required to be completed at Rajghat as well as the timelines within which these shall be completed. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging that the monument set up in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi was not being properly maintained. Petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey has claimed that the memorial "was not at all being properly and cleanly maintained", and despite being brought to the notice of the Committee and Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), there has been no change in the situation. In the PIL, Chouksey has submitted the photos of various deficiencies that he had come across during his visit to the monument in 2014 and then again in 2015 and 2016, when he claimed the situation had worsened. Referring to deficiencies, he has alleged there were betel stains at the entrance, broken floor tiles, rubbish lying all around the monument, the white marble has turned black due to lack of cleaning while the green carpet laid for visitors to walk was damaged. Two toilets were in very poor condition and unclean and at many places sewage lines are exposed and filled with garbage, becoming "breeding place for mosquitoes and other insects".
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