New project raises old questions Sculptures fall to neglect

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By BIBHUTI BARIK
  • Published 2.08.11
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Beautification work goes on in front of the state secretariat while the statue of a tribal woman, which was installed near the Kalinga Stadium a year ago, lies damaged.
Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 1: While several beautification projects are wallowing in neglect in the city, another one is coming up in front of the state secretariat. Given the bitter experience of poor maintenance in the past, questions of long-term survival of the new project, besides aesthetics, are being raised.

It is being said that the art objects, which are being displayed in front of the state secretariat as part of the beautification project, do not represent the state’s heritage.

“The place is very special as the building represents the seat of power with all ministers and bureaucrats having their offices there. But the choice of objects to be displayed there is thematically poor as it does not represent the essence of Oriya art and heritage. We are not opposed to beautification, but it should reflect a particular theme. Besides, there should be an effort to keep it fresh and lively,” said an architect who was involved with several beautification projects undertaken by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) earlier.

But the BMC officials involved in granting permission to the ongoing project clarified that work order for the beautification project has been given to Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.

“We have approved the design for the project and the company will invest according to their ability. We do not even know the installation cost of the project, as the corporation is only concerned with granting permission,” said Rina Mohapatra, PPP coordinator of the BMC.

Regarding maintenance of the beautification projects in the city, she added that when the earlier projects came to the BMC for approval, the corporation had no experience in handling PPP projects. Therefore, while executing the contracts, they did not follow any guidelines. “But now, with new PPP projects coming up, there will be at least a three-years’ maintenance norm to ensure that the installations are maintained properly,” she said.

An official of JSPL, however, added that there was no agreement on the maintenance norm with the corporation and that the JSPL has only been given permission to install the art objects. “We are yet to get any words from the BMC on the maintenance clause. All facts regarding this beautification project are known to the BMC officials, and, as per our knowledge, the project does not come under the PPP mode,” he said, adding “the installations will be inaugurated by the chief minister on the coming Self-Government Day on August 31.’’

To a question regarding maintenance of the Kalinga Kanan project near Kalinga Stadium, the senior BMC official added that M.G. Mohanty Mines, a private company, has been entrusted with the responsibility of the Kalinga Kanan beautification project, which was the biggest in the city. The project, inaugurated on August 31, 2008, is also wallowing in neglect. It was built with a financial assistance of nearly Rs 1 crore from Aliza and Fahmida International.

Not only Kalinga Kanan, but the median beautification near AG Square and Rajmahal Square met with a tragic end as expansion of road demolished the beautification structures there.

A beautification project near Rajmahal Square was to be dismantled by the roads and buildings department as a flyover was being planned in that area. The project was planned with an investment of Rs 21 lakh by Real Estate Developers Association (Reda) in 2007. However, as there was no coordination between the roads and buildings department and the BMC, the structure was dismantled only a year later.

“The beautification work also involves money. So, before finalising the structures, the authorities should decide whether they want to properly keep the installations or not. If the installations are to be demolished, then money should not be spent at all on these projects,’’ said Kuna Patra, a businessman from Jayadev Vihar area.

“Kalinga Kanan was one of the best beautification projects on Bidyut Marg, which connects Raj Bhavan Square with Jayadev Vihar. But now, as there is no proper maintenance, not only the art objects are lying in neglect, but electrical and other installations are also being stolen by anti-socials,’’ he added.

“Beautification projects should be coordinated in the capital in a proper manner. Project installations should be treated as permanent monument-like structures. The piece-meal approach to provide short-term and project-based beautification serve no purpose,’’ said Anup Mohapatra, a senior REDA member.