Home Economy BSP government equates Ambedkar memorial to Taj Mahal

BSP government equates Ambedkar memorial to Taj Mahal


Lucknow : The extravagant expenditure on the multibillion rupee Ambedkar memorial to honour the Dalit icon may have Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in a bind, but her officials Thursday unhesitatingly equated it with the Taj Mahal.

Cornered over unanswered queries under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on public funds being spent on projects to commemorate ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) icons B.R. Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, an official of the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) unwittingly drew a parallel between the two.

“Like Taj Mahal, the Ambedkar Memorial too is a monument and construction work on it is being undertaken on a large scale by different agencies,” the official told the Central Information Commission (CIC) while pleading for more time to gather the desired information.

The queries were raised by Shailendra Singh, a former Uttar Pradesh police officer who heads the state Congress’ RTI cell.

While castigating the government for its failure to reply to queries raised under the act, Chief Information Commissioner Justice M.A. Khan Thursday fixed Nov 15 as the deadline for detailed information relating to the projects.

It was perhaps in keeping with the Taj Mahal vision that the government Thursday also decided to dole out an additional Rs.5.3 billion ($134.7 million) to these projects, which already have allocations running into many millions.

The allocation formed part of the supplementary demands of almost Rs.20 billion passed by the state assembly Wednesday.

This follows an allocation of Rs.3.2 billion made for the Kanshi Ram memorial in the annual budget passed in July last year.

According to the provisions laid out in the official documents containing the supplementary demands, Rs.1.35 billion has been allocated for largescale renovation of the Ambedkar park cum memorial — on which Mayawati had spent Rs.1.5 billion during her second stint as chief minister in 1996.

The massive outlay had attracted a high-level probe that exposed bungling involving several senior bureaucrats.

With greater emphasis on Kanshi Ram this time, Rs.1.29 billion has been allocated for the Kanshi Ram Prerna Sthal and Rs.400 million for the proposed Rs.1.26 billion Kanshi Ram Guest House project.

In addition, Rs.900 million has been earmarked for installation of statues of BSP icons and other related artefacts at the Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram Memorials.