Project delayed as tenders from reputed sculptors had to be cancelled twice
Almost a year after the statues of Telugu luminaries on the Tank Bund were vandalised and felled on March 10 during the Million March in support of Telangana State, the empty pedestals, devoid of statues, stand as a stark reminder of that incident.
Installation of statues of eminent Telugus, renowned for their contribution as rulers, social reformers, poets, artistes, educationists, freedom fighters was the dream project of late Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao and meant to inspire and remind the younger generation about their culture, heritage and history.
Among those destroyed were those of Gurajada Apparao, Bellary Raghava, Sri Krishna Devarayalu, Annamacharya while pedestals of statues of Gurram Joshua, Sri Sri, educationist C. R. Reddy were damaged.
Even as the destruction sent shock waves among people cutting across the barriers of region, the government had announced on the floor of the Assembly last year that they would be reinstalled at the earliest and allocated Rs.75 lakh.
But, the project was delayed as the tenders invited from reputed sculptors had to be cancelled twice, with some backing out at the last minute.
Finally, the work was awarded in September last year to P. Aruna Prasad Vudayar of Bheemvaram in West Godavari for installation of 12 statues and five pedestals at a cost of Rs.47.58 lakh.
According to sources in the Department of Culture, the statues were expected be ready for re-installation in three to four months.
This is in contrast when the statues of 33 statues were installed within one month with several renowned sculptors working day and night. Recently the Human Rights Commission also sought a report on the progress of the work on Tank Bund statues.
Given the sentiments of people and nature of the project, a five-member expert committee with representatives from Fine Arts College, JNTU, Telugu Classical Language Board and R&B was constituted to inspect the work.
Meanwhile the Department of Culture also commissioned sculptors to create a statue of Komaram Bheem, the iconic tribal leader, who fought against Nizam's rule for installation on the Tank Bund.
They had written to the Tribal Welfare department to finalise a date as the statue was ready.