No plans to sell JP Narayan Centre, says chief engineer of Lucknow Development Authority

There were no plans to sell the Jaya Prakash Narayan International Centre (JPNIC), a multi-purpose convention centre dedicated to the socialist ideologue in Lucknow, an Uttar Pradesh official stated on Thursday.

“No such proposal has been sent to the government,” Chief engineer of the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) Indu Shekhar Singh told The Hindu. “We are a construction agency. This is a government project. How can we pass a proposal to sell it,” the official asked.

Mr. Singh’s clarification came after a controversy was triggered over a report that the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government was planning to sell off the JPNIC to private firms for a slated price of over ₹1,642 crore. The JPNIC, an interpretation centre envisaged along the likes of the India Habit Centre of New Delhi, was conceived by the previous Samajwadi Party government, under Akhilesh Yadav.

Once complete, the almost 19-acre project near the Gomti River would boast a number of facilities ranging from a world-class convention halls, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a multi-sports block, a luxury hotel, an auditorium, a business centre, a helipad and a museum.

Dedicated to the personal and political journey of J.P. Narayan and through it the nascent years of Indian democracy, the museum, called the Museum of Socialism, has been operative since late 2016.

However, most of the other facilities are either incomplete or inoperative. After coming to power in 2017, the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government had initiated a probe into its construction.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav claimed that by selling the JPNIC to “private hands” the BJP government would finish off the “prime objective” of the centre that was dedicated to socialist values.

“Bent on selling off every institution and resources across the country and in the State, the BJP has sold out to the rich,” Mr. Yadav tweeted on Wednesday.

The LDA official, however, said the Authority had no such plans and rejected reports that it had sent a proposal to the government. “Absolutely no, in strong words,” Mr Singh said.

He added that the LDA had in fact sought additional funds of ₹110-115 crore for completing the unfinished sections of the project. Around ₹865 crore was originally sanctioned for the project.

“A revised DPR (detailed project report) was sent saying that the said extra amount was required to make the projects functional,” the official said.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 6:06:17 PM |

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