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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

Lucknow's Qaiserbagh facelift project in limbo

Gulam Jeelani , Hindustan Times  Lucknow, September 26, 2013
First Published: 10:45 IST(26/9/2013) | Last Updated: 12:54 IST(26/9/2013)

Estimated cost of project crosses Rs. 20 crore, which may be too much for the govt to sanction.

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The ambitious Qaiserbagh makeover plan has been shelved for now -apparently due to fund crunch.

Expected to see the light of the day by October this year, the project has failed to move beyond meetings -- even after more than three months since it was envisioned.

On June 17, district administration had said that the Qaiserbagh heritage zone -- from Qaiserbagh circle to Parivartan Chowk -- would bask in its past glory on the lines of Hazratganj by October this year.

A first-of-its-kind Qaiserbagh heritage festival on October 27 and 28 at the renovated site was also one of the announcements.

The estimated cost of the facelift -- which drew too many people’s involvement in it, perhaps because of the chief minister evincing interest in the project -- has crossed  Rs. 20 crore, according to sources, which obviously is too much for the government to sanction. With the result not an inch of the stretch has been renovated. And there are no immediate hopes either.

“Since all the stakeholders wanted to have their say, the budget crossed Rs. 20 crore, which the government will not sanction unless under special circumstances. I do not think it is happening any time sooner at least at the government level,” said a senior official.

Significantly the last meeting for this project was held not less than two months ago. It was at this meeting, presided over by divisional commissioner Sanjiv Saran, that authorities realised that the estimated cost exceeded limits, said sources.

Additionally, confusion over who should be appointed as a consultant also spoiled the plans, they added.

“First, it was decided that a private conservation architect would be roped in. Later, it was proposed that the LDA would prepare the detailed project report (DPR). Nothing has happened on the ground till date,” a source said.

Even those involved with the project admitted t hat things were moving slowly. Filmmaker Muzaffar Ali, part of the project, said that the project was on, albeit delayed. “We will begin with a conservation seminar in November. Then we plan to hold the Wajid Ali Shah festival -- may be after Moharram (mid- November),” he added.

Ali is also planning to stage a play at the renovated venue.

Amid hope spinned by Muzaffar Ali, senior officials in the district administration seem quite pessimistic about the project.

They said that the project could be executed only if the top brass in the government wants it to be done at all cost.

“Normally, the government would never sanction Rs. 20 crore or more for a project like this. But if the stakeholders, including politicians, put pressure on the government, it can be executed.

The project can move ahead if a fresh plan is worked and the estimated cost is reduced.

But even in that situation, it won’t take shape before next year,” added an official.

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