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Oshwal centre sits on riparian land and should be demolished – AG

The government has distanced itself from building approvals granted to Shree Visa Oshwal Community Centre, saying they were obtained illegally.

In response to a case field by the community opposing plans to demolish the centre, both the Attorney-General and the Nairobi county government said the building has been erected on riparian land and must demolished.

The AG maintained that the the centre’s construction involved diverting Nairobi River’s course.

He added that the government could not be barred from exercising a duty vested on it by the Constitution, especially in a key role such as conserving the environment.

PUBLISH INTEREST

He said public interest in the matter outweighs individual or group interest and cannot therefore be stopped for the selfish interest of any person or group.

On its part, the County Government through Prof Wambua Musili said the approvals were obtained in contravention of the law.

Prof Wambua said that, by failing to clear structures on riparian land, the county government would be abdicating its responsibility and against the greater public interest.

The community, through Mr Elijah Mwangi, moved to court last month and obtained temporary orders stopping the demolition.

Mr Mwangi said the community has erected a massive complex consisting of a temple, a library, auditorium, wedding halls, sports facilities and other incidental facilities on the property.

He said the property has been used for the past 14 years during religious cultural and social functions.

CITY COUNCIL APPROVAL

The lawyer said all the buildings were put up with the approval of the defunct City Council adding that to demolish the property would violate their rights to property as enshrined in the constitution.

Documents filed in court show that the Community has a lease of 99 years from August 1, 1985 and that the title permits them to utilise the property as permitted.

They alleged that the commissioner of lands had authorised them to use the property for educational and religious, community purposes.

Before the construction, the Community said it procured all the necessary approvals from the City Council including the approvals for re-routing the existing sewers and water canals.

The defunct City council issued the community with a certificate of occupation of the building on October 23, 2007.

Mr Jint Shah, the acting chairman of the Community said the adherents and community members, who use the facility for religious, social and cultural reasons, will be adversely affected if the centre is demolished.