Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's dream project, the Rs.5 billion Ambedkar Park and Memorial, will have as many as 62 statues of elephants - her Bahujan Samaj Party's election symbol - at a cost of more than Rs 380 million.
Sculptors from Rajasthan are already on the job, chiselling elephants in sandstone, each of which will cost Rs 6.2 million.
This detail came to light following an intervention by activist Shailendra Singh, who had filed a query before the State Information Commission under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Rs 38 crores (Rs 380 million) has been earmarked for the elephants to be placed on a high platform at a prominent spot in the Ambedkar memorial,� an official involved in the project told to IANS on condition of anonymity. He added, �While two majestic elephants would be placed at the main entry gate, 30 elephants will flank each side of the pathway leading from the gate to the main structure.
According to Shailendra Singh, the Chief Minister's plan was to have the elephants to be sculptured in bronze. But it was decided to go for sandstone as the deadline of March 15 for the completion of the project was coming closer.
It would not have been possible to make so many elephants in bronze within the available time, said an official of the construction agency carrying out the task.
The new memorial is being built on the partial debris of the old Ambedkar Park that was launched by Mayawati herself at a cost of Rs 1.5 billion during her second stint as chief minister in the late 1990s.
With an additional allocation of Rs 3.50 billion this time, the entire scheme was now slated to be a Rs 5 billion affair.
It was in addition to another Rs 2.70 billion memorial named after Mayawati's mentor and BSP founder Kanshi Ram.
Maya spends Rs 254.5 cr on Kanshi Ram Memorial
as reported by Kajari Bhattacharya, The Telegraph
LUCKNOW, Aug. 27: So much for plugging wastages. Ms Mayawati's new government has decided to tear down the Ambedkar Maidan here and build a Kanshi Ram Memorial in its place at a cost of Rs 254.5 crore, reveals a Right to Information application.
In reply to the application filed by state Youth Congress spokesperson Mr Abhishek Singh, the Lucknow Development Authority today placed before the State Information Commission the details of yet another of Ms Mayawati's costly whims.
Rs 135 crore has been sanctioned for the main building of the memorial. Rs 56.3 crore is for a new boundary wall and other permanent structures. Roads and drains within the memorial will cost Rs 16 crore. The architect's fee alone is Rs 3.75 crore. Rs 13.80 lakh has already been spent just to tear down the Ambedkar Maidan boundary wall.
The Maidan, located on Jail Road, Alambagh, itself had been built by the Mayawati government in 2003 at a cost of Rs 6.54 crore from the state infrastructure fund.
On 1 August last year, the new Mayawati government decided to “follow the wishes of Dalit leader Kanshi Ram” and thus build memorial statues of the Bahajan Samaj Party founder and his protégée, Ms Mayawati, all over Lucknow city. One of the many projects was to demolish the Ambedkar Maidan and build the Kanshi Ram Memorial in its place. The state housing department was given the charge of developing this project.
Just a couple of days back, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly passed the First Supplementary Budget for the fiscal 2008-09, in which a demand for an additional Rs 253 crore for the Ambedkar Parivartan Sthal ~ which itself had been setup at a cost of more than 1753 crore ~ was tabled by finance minister Mr Lalji Verma. The Assembly also passed a demand for Rs 12 crore for landscaping 13A Mall Avenue, which serves as the residence of Ms Mayawati when she is not chief minister.
State information commissioner Mr Gyanendra Sharma has rebuked the state housing department for its delay in providing information asked for by the Commission. The housing department has been show-caused for this delay.