Commuters will have a longer walk to access walkway
The delay in shifting the statue of B.R. Ambedkar from the alignment of the Vidhana Soudha underground metro station has not only resulted in additional expenditure, but would eventually lead to passengers walking at least 20 metres extra while entering or leaving the station.
Since the government has not taken any steps to shift the statue even after the Karnataka High Court direction, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. has been working on an alternative plan for the underground station, according to its Managing Director N. Sivasailam.
At the sidelines of a talk-series on ‘Bangalore Metro and Challenges’ organised by the Centre for Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore here on Thursday, he said the station work had already been delayed by over six months and the metro could not wait any longer.
The Ambedkar statue is standing on a solid rock and a portion of the rock has to be cut to make the passenger exit walkway. A wider walkway is being constructed around the statue, which effectively makes passengers walk at least 20 mt extra, he said.
Mr. Sivasailam also claimed that the statue had sunk about 19 mm from its original position due to the continuous excavation work around it. Expecting further movement, the BMRCL created a support below and around the statue so that it now rests on it, he said.
Mr. Sivasailam could not say whether the statue would shift once again. He, however, said,
“We are monitoring it [the statue] closely, and taking care [of the safety].”
He reiterated that the BMRCL should not be held responsible for any accidental damage caused to the statue because of movement of the earth or other reasons.
Speaking about the talk-series, M.V. Rajeev Gowda, the centre’s chairperson, said public policy can improve by learning lessons from practical experiences. The series would generate valuable case studies to enable practitioners to manage projects and tackle policy challenges better.
Additional Chief Secretary K. Jairaj (retd.), who is a senior fellow of the centre, introduced the series.
He said the practitioners’ perspective on complex issues on projects, stakeholder engagement and managing political interest would offer an insight into the framework for efficacious execution of projects. Sridhar Pabbisetty, Chief Operating Officer of the centre, was present.
Meanwhile, nine Dalit organisations fighting a case opposing the shifting of the statue, described the statements of Mr. Sivasailam as “mischievous”.
Mavalli Shankar, one of the petitioners in the case, said the Social Welfare Department had taken “responsibility” for the statue’s safety in a high-level meeting held on January 7 in which Dalit organisations participated.
M. Kumbaiah, advocate for the organisations, said the case is pending before the court, which has directed the government objections to the writ petition and the technical report. The next hearing is scheduled for the coming week.
Within Dalit organisations, there are voices that believe the issue should not be “stretched”.
N. Venkatesh, one of the founding members of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti in Karnataka, said the statue should be shifted “if the government assures that it will be placed back safely”. He said this should be done in the interest of the safety of the statue and the larger public good.