In a new twist to the row over shifting of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s statue located in front of Vidhana Soudha, the State government on Wednesday claimed before the Karnataka High Court that “there is no need to shift the statue temporarily as work on Metro that may have caused danger to the statue at the spot is completed.”
A submission in this regard was made before a Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer during the hearing on pleas for and against shifting of the statue.
Contrary to the statement of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited that the cost of the project could go up as high as Rs.100 crore to work without shifting the statue, Additional Advocate-General (AAG) Sajan Poovayya submitted to the court that cost escalation was not due to the statue but due to use of advanced blasting technology for preventing damage to heritage buildings like the High Court and Vidhana Soudha.
Admitting that the State has its own “socio-political equations” due to sensitivity over the issue, Mr. Poovayya, however, claimed that the decision against shifting and to lift the statue from its pedestal was “not a political decision” but a “technical one as a precautionary measure.”
However, the documents produced before the court indicate that though the government in 2009 ordered shifting all three statues [of Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Dr. Ambedkar], the Social Welfare Minister intervened and put on hold the decision to shift following pleas by various organisations against shifting of Dr. Ambedkar’s statue.
Meanwhile, the Bench asked the AAG whether it was not discriminatory to shift only two statues leaving behind the third one and also keeping the other two statues on pedestal in a rose garden.
However, Mr. Poovayya said that there was no discrimination as it was due to circumstances while pointing out that the situation that existed in 2009 for shifting statues no more existed now.
The Bench adjourned further hearing by asking both the State and BMRCL to file affidavits by Monday with regard to safety of the statue as well as their desirability of relocating the statue.