Despite an expenditure of R685 crore, the dream of the Mayawati administration to open the grand Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden in Noida for the general public and “woo Dalit voters in Western Uttar Pradesh” during the assembly elections still remains unfulfilled.
Now that the Election Commission has ordered that statutes of Mayawati and those of elephants, the election symbol of her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), be covered, the park would remain closed till the elections are over.
The chief minister had inaugurated the memorial in October last year, but it could not be opened for the public because some facilities were yet to be put in place. The administration has planned a ticket-based entry for visitors.
Similar parks and memorials had been constructed in Lucknow but the one in Noida was meant for people living in western UP and areas bordering Delhi. The monument is dedicated to Dalit icons, and has been constructed "to honour their unparalleled struggle for social transformation".
The construction began in 2008. A group of residents moved court, objecting to a large number of trees being cut. The park’s proximity to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary became another legal objection.
But in December 2011, the Supreme Court, which had stopped the construction because of environmental concerns, cleared the project with certain riders. The government maintained 75% of the total area as green.
The government planted 7,600 trees and 1.5 lakh shrubs of 75 varieties in the park on the eastern banks of the Yamuna in Sector 95.
The memorial has the statues of 15 Dalit icons, including two of Mayawati herself. There are 20 elephant statues. Besides, 16 elephants each adorn the two fountains.
The two gates have four elephants each. Elephant statues adorn numerous pillars.