J. R. Shridharan
Left leaders, freedom-fighters meet Mayor and seek its completion
Project was started in late 90s when Left parties were at the helm of affairs in VMCPicture gallery of prominent freedom fighters of Krishna District and library proposed
VIJAYAWADA: Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) is celebrating its Silver Jubilee amidst fanfare, but the much-publicised monument for freedom fighters on the bank of river Krishna is yet to become functional. The project, which was set in motion in the late 90s when the Left parties were at the helm of affairs in VMC, is still in limbo.
In 1998, when the Left parties were ruling the council, the corporation unanimously passed a resolution to construct a 50-foot tall monument for freedom fighters commemorating the Golden Jubilee celebrations of India's independence.
Says Gowtham Reddy, former standing committee chairman and a senior CPI leader: "The project was taken up with generous contributions from public and with corporation funds. The actual plan was to have a picture gallery of prominent freedom fighters of Krishna District and a library in the first floor. We planned to raise a 50-foot `gopuram' on top of the library. But the corporation left the project midway."
`Lack of interest'
Mr. Reddy said a delegation led by former Mayor T. Venkateswara Rao and freedom fighters met Municipal Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar recently and expressed their anguish over the lack of interest by the corporation in completing the project. "He promised them that the project would be completed by August 15. An amount of Rs. 5 lakhs is required for completion of the project," he added.
The plan to build the circular structure was implemented despite several objections from the irrigation and railway departments. Says CPI-M floor leader Ch. Babu Rao: "The irrigation department issued a letter to the corporation stating that no permanent structure should come up within 100 feet from the river bund. Challenging the department's notice, several senior politicians and freedom fighters countered the argument. "If no building should be constructed on river and canal bunds, how come many multi-storeyed buildings have come up on Eluru Canal?" he asked.
He said as many as Rs. 7 lakhs was collected from the city elite for the noble cause. "The earlier TDP-Congress regime never realised the importance of the project. The present council is also following the footsteps of the earlier regime," he bemoaned.
Mr. Rao felt that the monument would be a favourite tourist spot, as it was close to Rajeev Gandhi Park and river Krishna. "The monument would portray the selfless struggle by our elders from Krishna District for the freedom of our country. The monument would infuse a sense of patriotism among the younger generation," he felt.
Speaking to The Hindu , Municipal Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar cited the cost of material such as cement and iron as reason for the inordinate delay. "The other main reason is that no contractor is coming forward to take up the work. We have called for tenders thrice, but in vain. We have called for the fourth time and we hope that we will be completing the basic structure by August 15," he said.