Atiq Khan

State government denies charge, says it is only maintenance activity

LUCKNOW: Work is continuing on memorials for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram here, even two days after the Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to suspend it.

A Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agarwal and Aftab Alam took a dim view of thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money being spent on building monuments and statues in memory of the icons of the ruling BSP.

Senior counsel for the State government Satish Chandra Mishra had given an assurance to the court that construction work would remain suspended.

A team of The Hindu, which visited the sites on Thursday, found that grinding work and chiselling of stones brought from Mirzapur were on in full swing.

While some were engaged in this work along the boundary of the Ambedkar Udyan at Gomtinagar near the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal, others were giving finishing touches to the outer boundary wall. At the Kanshi Ram Smarak (memorial) on Jail Road, the labourers were finishing work on a domed structure near the main entrance. A few kilometres away on Bijnor Road is situated the Kanshi Ram Sanskritik Sthal or Maidan (cultural centre). Here, huge stone slabs — to be used for constructing a building in the cultural centre — were being lifted by the labourers.

Policemen have been deployed at all the sites but thanks to the vast expanse of the memorials and parks, the ongoing work is visible from outside.

Workers at the sites have been asked to keep away from the media and an attempt to solicit their view was met with a strict ‘No.’ Drawn mostly from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, they have been continuing their work at the memorials and parks, including the Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan, though many of them may not be even aware of the court directives.

However, the State government has denied flouting of the court order.

In a statement here, a spokesperson of the Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Limited said no construction was being undertaken. No work was being done on monuments which were the subject of writ petitions pending before the Allahabad High Court.

The release said confusion was created by a section of the media, which reported that construction work had not stopped despite the court directive. The allegation was not true. Only some maintenance work was being undertaken, the spokesman said.