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Gandhi statue trips on deadline, twice over

The city will have to wait — maybe a little longer than people can think — to witness the tallest Mahatma Gandhi statue in the world at Gandhi Maidan.

After missing the deadline to unveil the statue on the Father of the Nation’s birthday on October 2 last year, the government is all set to flunk again on Wednesday when the country will observe Martyrs’ Day, the Mahatma’s death anniversary. The state had revised its plans to unveil the 40ft statue — the world’s tallest with a 26ft pedestal — on January 30.

The 25-tonne statue of Bapu — made by sculptor Ram V. Sutar — was installed on January 3 but work on several factors remained incomplete even 18 hours before its rescheduled inauguration.

The district administration has refused to take the onus of this delay claiming that the necessary groundwork for the same had to be done by the building construction department, which failed to complete it within stipulated time.

Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said: “The date of unveiling the Gandhi statue has not been finalised as the work is still going on.”

Whether the district administration has any role in its construction, DM Kumar said: “The construction around the statue is being carried out by the building construction department. They will complete the work around the statue also.”

Far from the bureaucratic blame game, an on-spot inspection by The Telegraph found the works far from over.

Preferring anonymity, one of the staff at the site said: “As you can see that the statue has been installed but a lot of work needs to be done. It will take at least one month to finish the statue and its premises. Most of the stone work has not been completed yet.”

“Four big murals have come from Delhi but these are yet to be pasted around the pedestal. Three huge stone flowerpots would have to be built but only one is being done at present. It takes lot of time to cut the stones, which have come from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, to proper size,” he added.

“The state building construction department officials have asked us to complete the work as soon as possible but we cannot risk of making an awful surrounding. Actually, we were asked to start work just 12 days ago though the statue was installed on January 3. We are yet to carve anything on the 15 big stones to be used as showcase,” the in-charge staff said.

He added: “Tiles work has not been completed around the pedestal, work on lighting is yet to start; neither the small garden has been made nor painting yet to begin. Although some 30 labourers are working almost round the clock, still it will take at least a month.”

So, far the state government has spent Rs 10 crore on the statue. In 2011, chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced to install the Gandhi statue at Gandhi Maidan. Once complete, the statue will be Gandhi’s standing pose in which he is holding two children — a boy and a girl. The girl is holding a flower in her right hand while the boy has folded his left leg. At the bottom of the statue, Gandhi’s famous quote “Mera Jeevan Hi Mera Sandesh” has also been carved.

No official of the building construction was available for comment despite repeated attempts. Neither building construction minister Damodar Raut nor department secretary Chanchal Kumar responded to calls made on their cellphones.


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