Employees at National Dalit Prerna Sthal cover statues of elephants following Election Commission orders in Noida. PTI
Under the watchful eyes of officials and the sword of an Election Commission (EC) deadline, the UP administration is racing against time to cover the statues of chief minister Mayawati and elephants - her party BSP's election symbol - in Lucknow and Noida.
The Election Commission's deadline for covering all statues of Mayawati and elephant ends at 5pm on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Election Commission's order to cover statues of BSP leader Mayawati and her party symbol elephant in poll-bound UP, will come up for hearing in the Allahabad high court on Wednesday. Dheeraj Singh, a social activist, has filed the PIL challenging the EC's order.
The PIL challenges the EC decision on the ground that covering elephant statues may hurt the religious sentiment of some people as elephant symbolises Lord Ganesha.
On Tuesday, bundle after bundle of tarpaulin emptied out, giving the grey monotony of stone a lively yellow or pink makeover. Plywood boxes supported by iron scaffoldings rose in the air.
At the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal in Lucknow, workers sweated all day to drape the nearly 20-feet high elephant statues in plastic sheets.
Those of Mayawati, almost of the same height, went inside wooden boxes. Time, manpower, cost and the scale of work appeared to be making it a jumbo task.
A Rajkiya Nirman Nigam official at the Lucknow memorial said each elephant statue would need 1200 sq feet of tarpaulin, which would cost around Rs. 1500. Covering a Mayawati statue would be 10 times expensive approximately.
The park has 68 elephant statues. To tackle the bigger ones, several pieces of tarpaulin had to be stitched together. When hands fell short, sweepers from the memorial's maintenance committee were roped in.
"We didn't have to toil like this when building the statues. If we knew we would have to wrap them one day, we would not have made such huge structures," said a worker.
In 10 memorials and parks across Lucknow, veils are needed for 10 statues of Mayawati and nearly 100 elephants. District magistrate AK Sagar was confident the EC's deadline would be met.
Urgency prevailed all over the Rs. 685-crore Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida as bundles of pink plastic sheets landed in tempos for the 50 elephant statues.
"Almost 80% of the work is over. The rest will be done by Wednesday noon," said Arvind Trivedi, general manager of the Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Limited that built the park.