Concerned over the tax payers' money being allegedly used to build memorials for political leaders, a local activist has urged the politicians to write their legal wills against using any public land to raise such memorials after their demise.
“While the respective governments earmark lands worth crores of rupees to raise memorials named after politicians in New Delhi and other states, lakhs of Indians sleep on footpaths. Politicians should take a lead and announce that not even an inch of the public land would be used to build any memorial named after them,” said PP Kapoor, who has got information on such memorials in New Delhi.
According to information provided under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the central public works department (CPWD) revealed that in 2012, it spent Rs 1.28 crore on the electricity bills, while Rs 71.65 lakh were spent on the maintenance of electrical appliances only at seven memorials built in New Delhi.
It further stated that Rs 27.40 lakh were paid as salary to those deputed to maintain these memorials of very important personalities (VIPs).
Similarly, the union government had paid Rs 1.53 crore in 2009-10 to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Rs 34.65 lakh to others deployed to look after these memorials spread over 200 acres of prime land in Delhi.
The information is related to the samadhis of Jawaharlal Nehru (also housing Sanjay Gandhi's samadhi), Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri and wife Lalita, Mahatma Gandhi, Devi Lal and Charan Singh and Babu Jagjiwan Ram.
Kapoor said the government should integrate the existing memorials at one place and the vacated land should be used for multi-storey housing buildings for homeless.
“On Friday, the union cabinet gave its approval for the construction of a 'Rashtriya Smriti' at the Samadhis Complex near Ekta Sthal in New Delhi, to establish a place to perform last rites of departed national leaders, including presidents, vice-presidents, prime ministers, former presidents, former vice-presidents, former prime ministers and many more. Again, the public land would be earmarked for a national memorial while thousands of poor are living without any shelter,” he said.
“The memorial land in Delhi is enough to build 80,000 housing plots for the homeless,” Kapoor said. Though the RTI petition was filed in June 2010, the CPWD took three years to furnish “incomplete” information.
The CPWD has not furnished details on the expenditure on civil constructions, maintenance of gardens and water bodies at these memorials.