Development works for the Simhastha fair in Ujjain are on in full swing but the preparations are not devoid of complications.
The Ujjain Simhastha is a mass Hindu pilgrimage and one of the fairs recognised as Kumbh Melas. During the Simhastha, Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river. At Ujjain, it is held once every 12 years on the banks of Kshipra river. The fair will be held in April, this year.
A huge number of writ petitions were filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court over violations of norms in many development works being carried out by the state government ahead of the fair.
Public interest litigations (PIL) on ten works were filed in the HC and the proposed works were scrapped by judges.
On a PIL, stay on construction of Simhastha Authority office at Kothi Road was ordered by the HC as a park land was being used for which the authorities did not complete proper formalities.
A watch tower and control room at Narsingh ghat of Kshipra river was proposed by the government but the HC bench scrapped the project on the grounds that no construction could come up in the green belt of the river. The Ujjain Development Authority had already floated tenders for the project.
The Public Works Department (PWD) had initiated a project to build a new railway over-bridge in Freeganj area. However, the department changed the location against the City Master Plan. Based on this violation, the HC on a PIL scrapped the project.
The HC bench also cancelled lighting contract for Simhastha fair costing around Rs21 crore. Gujarat-based HEL Infra Projects Ltd had moved a petition alleging huge irregularities in awarding the contract of lighting in the fair area. The court also directed the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) to conduct an inquiry into the tender allotment procedure. HC order forced the lighting work at the Simhastha venue to be withheld.
Acquisition of 12 houses situated opposite the Mahakal Temple for widening of the road was declared void by the HC on the grounds that it did not follow proper procedure.
Social worker Bakir Ali Rangwala, who filed most of the PILs, said officials work in a manner as they wish and have little concern towards the norms and guidelines. “Many times the norms have been bended to benefit a particular person or a firm,” he said.
Rangwala said one end of Simhastha Bypass, constructed recently by the MP Road Development Corporation, was taken 100 metres away from the square at Nanakhera to save a piece of land and a building which was against the guidelines of Roads Congress (representative technical body of highway engineers in India.)
“The HC has given a decision against the MPRDC and we have filed a contempt petition in the matter,” he said.
Similar petitions on encroachments in Simhastha areas, nullahs culminating in Kshipra and sewage issues of temporary toilets are pending with the HC.
Projects called off
Watch tower and control room at Narsingh ghat
Railway over-bridge in Freeganj area
Acquisition of houses for widening of road