Amid Cong vs BJP over toppled Mahakal statues, MP Lokayukta decides to step in
Strong winds on Sunday toppled six statues of saptrishi installed as part of the Mahakal Lok corridor project developed on the premises of Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh’s Lokayukta justice NK Gupta has ordered an investigation into the recent damage to six statues installed at the Mahakal Lok corridor project at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain due to gusty winds, people familiar with the matter.
Six statues of saptrishi (seven sages) fell off the pedestals due to strong winds on Sunday and another 11 developed cracks. The incident sparked a political controversy in Madhya Pradesh after the Congress blamed corruption for the sub-standard work done at the temple complex, leading the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to link the damage to the design and material of the statutes, which it said, was finalised when the Congress was in power.
A Lokayukta official said justice NK Gupta ordered the investigation into the entire episode.
The official at the state’s top anti- corruption watchdog explained that a Lokayukta team will visit the Mahakal Lok to look into various aspects of the case including the manner in which it was decided to instal statues made of Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP).
“What is the responsibility of the company that installed it and did the company use substandard material? Is there any kind of corruption involved in allowing FRP’s statues in the Mahakal Lok? These are some points on which Lokayukta will start the probe. Lokayukta will also question officials involved in the project,” the official said.
The first phase of the Mahakaleshwar Temple Corridor Development Project in Ujjain was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October last year. At the time, the government said the first phase of the Mahakal corridor, which was named “Mahakal Lok”, was constructed at a cost of ₹351 crore. The corridor has 76 idols of between nine and 18 feet height and about 110 small idols.
The Congress sent a team of party leaders to the temple to make an assessment. Later, Congress leaders Shobha Oza and former minister and legislator Sajjan Singh Verma told reporters in Bhopal demanded that a sitting judge of the high court investigate corruption and sub-standard work in the project. “We will submit all the proof and documents to the judge,” Verma said.
Verma said an internal structure was required to make the FRP statutes. “This internal structure of steel was not made. The thickness of the net used in the making of idols should be 1,200 to 1,600 grams GSM, but only 150 to 200 grams GSM Chinese net was used in the idols installed in Mahakal Lok,” said Verma.
He also said the idols were attached to a 10 feet high pedestal without a foundation. “For this reason, the idols fell and got damaged in the light wind. A materials testing laboratory needed to be set up at the site itself to check the quality of the statues. This lab was not set up,” he said.
District collector Ujjain Kumar Purshottam told local media that new statues will be installed. “The company will install new statues within two months. The quality check will also be done,” he added.
MP Babariya, the Gujarat-headquartered firm which was given the project, couldn’t be contacted on the numbers given on the official website despite repeated attempts.