In a letter written to Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sought direction to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to initiate the process of denotifying the forest land where Sant Ravidas temple stood. The temple in South Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area was demolished on August 10 by the DDA on the direction of the Supreme Court.

In his letter to the Union housing and urban affairs minister, Kejriwal also offered to rebuild the temple on the same site once the land is denotified and made available to the temple society. Kejriwal said demolition of the temple has caused “tremendous hurt” to the sentiments of crores of people as Sant Ravidas was a saint, revered not just by the Dalit community, but by all.

Although the temple and all other property have been demolished, it is still possible to restore the temple, the Delhi chief minister said in the letter, adding since the land is under ownership of the DDA, only the Central government can initiate its denotification.

“The DDA will have to initiate the process. It will need to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change through the Government of NCT of Delhi, for notifying the diversion of the land,” he said.

Kejriwal assured Puri that the AAP government will act in a time-bound manner on the proposal to denotify the land. “I will ensure that state government takes up the matter immediately and that it is decided in accordance with law in a time-bound manner,” he said.

On the matter of reconstruction of the temple, Kejriwal wrote, “If the Government of India makes the land available to the society that was running the temple, with your support and blessings, the Delhi government will be pleased to carry out the reconstruction of the temple.”

According to the Delhi government, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam has already written to the DDA vice-chairman, this is for the DDA to initiate the proposal for denotification of the land on which the Sant Ravidas Temple existed.

The demolition of Ravidas temple in south Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area caused a massive uproar among the Dalit community. The national capital also witnessed protests by the Dalit community on August 21 led by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad for the demolition of Ravidas temple by Delhi Development Authority.

(With inputs from PTI)