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Government decides not to shift Ambedkar statue

Anil Kumar Sastry
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Instead, it will be kept in an iron cage that will hang from a crane at its original position

A temporary measure— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
A temporary measure— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

In what appears to be a politically expedient decision ahead of the Assembly elections, the government has decided against temporarily shifting the B.R. Ambedkar statue to pave the way for the Vidhana Soudha underground metro station work.

This decision comes even as the Karnataka High Court in its December 12 order directed the State government to shift the statue temporarily to facilitate the work. However, the government’s plea for extension of time to shift the statue is pending before the High Court along with a PIL petition by Dalit organisations opposing the removal of the statue and a contempt petition for not shifting the statue.

The government, instead has said the statue may be separated from its pedestal and kept in an iron cage that would remain hanging from a crane at its original position.

In its order dated January 22, 2013, the government also accorded administrative approval to spend Rs. 15 lakh for preparing the cage and for the safekeeping of the statue.

Technical committee

While issuing the order, the government constituted a technical committee, headed by chairman of the Task Force on Quality Control in Public Constructions C.S. Vishwanath and comprising B.R. Sreenivasa Murthy, retired civil engineering professor of the Indian Institute of Science, and A.N. Thyagaraj, Chief Engineer (South), Public Works Department, to suggest modalities for the safekeeping of the statue.

However, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) has been claiming that the delay in shifting of the statue would cause an additional expenditure of Rs. 110 crore and increase the length of the passenger exit from the underground station by about 20 mt.

Work to ensure safety of the statue, which BMRCL managing director N. Sivasailam recently revealed had sunk by about 19 mm, commenced on Friday afternoon by providing cantilever support to the statue as a temporary measure.

Mr. Vishwanath told The Hindu that the committee, after inspecting the site on Thursday, decided to take temporary safety measures from Friday itself. As a short-term measure, a 40-tonne crane has been stationed to provide support for holding the statue through a cantilever boom. Apart from the crane, two metal legs on hard ground have been provided to support the holding. This measure will be in place for about 15 days, Mr. Vishwanath said.

The long-term measure is to keep the statue inside an iron cage, he said, adding that the BMRCL thereafter could continue the work unhindered.

Meanwhile Dalit organisations plan a meeting on Saturday to examine the government’s move, said Mavalli Shankar, Dalit Sangharsh Samiti secretary.

He told The Hindu that the government has not given a categorical assurance about relocating the statue in its original position after completion of the Namma Metro work. This is why Dalits are apprehensive about the government’s intentions, he said.

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