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MP: Congress Demands Judicial Probe Into Corruption in the Mahakal Lok Corridor Project

Kashif Kakvi |
The Congress further alleged that to get a compliment from PM Modi, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan carried out substandard work and installed temporary statues worth Rs 10 lakh each.

Bhopal: Falling of seven-month-old statues installed at the 350-crore Mahakal Lok Corridor in Ujjain on Sunday due to gusty winds created a political slugfest over the religion in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. The opposition Congress alleged that the BJP did not spare Hindu gods and cheated lord Mahakal.

A day after Madhya Pradesh Congress alleged massive corruption in the Mahakal Lok corridor project in Ujjain city after six out of the seven idols of 'Saptarishis' (seven sages) installed at the corridor collapsed due to gusty winds, Lokayukta Police lodged a suo-moto preliminary report and launched an investigation.

"The Lokayukta Police lodged a preliminary report over the falling of statues installed seven months ago in Mahakal Lok Corridor of Ujjain city," confirmed a senior officer told NewsClick.

Two complaints of alleged corruption in the construction of Mahakal Lok Corridor have already been underway before the Lokayukta police. A month after the inauguration, when Lokayukta police issued notices to 14 officials alleging corruption based on the complaint of Congress MLA Mahesh Pramar, the state government transferred Kailash Makwana, in-charge of Lokayukta Police.

MP Congress

When cornered by the media over the falling of idols, Ujjain collector Kumar Purushottam clarified to reporters, "The idols are made up of Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) statues which are not durable and were temporarily installed inside the corridor without cementing it. Since it was installed temporarily, these idols will be replaced with iron ones." 

"These statues will be reinstalled within a week after the makeover," he added.

The first phase of the Rs 350 crore Mahakal Lok corridor project has been developed on the premises of Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. A Gujarat-based company MP Babariya was given the contract for the construction, and on October 11, 2022, it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Two days after the incident, a team of Congress leaders and experts visited the site to probe the matter. After the visit, on Wednesday, Sajjan Singh Verma addressed reporters. He alleged massive corruption in the construction leading to the 'sub-standard work of the corridor, and demanded an inquiry chaired by a sitting high court judge.

"An idol with such a quality should be purchased for Rs 3 lakh while the government has purchased each idol with a cost of over Rs 10.2 lakh," alleged Verma, addressing reporters a day after visiting the site with experts.

"An internal iron structure is important to hold the FRP idols, but it was not followed in the idols installed inside the Mahakal Lok corridor. The thickness of the net used in making the idols should be 1200 to 1600 grams GSM, but the Chinese net of 150 to 200 grams GSM was used in the idols installed in Mahakal Lok," he claimed, referring to the work order. 

"The statues were attached to cement on a 10-foot high pedestal without a base (foundation). For this reason, the idols fell and got damaged in the light wind blowing at 30 km/hour."

According to the tender, per Congress, there are clear instructions that a laboratory will have to be set up at the site to check the quality of the idols, which was not done. If the materials used were tested in the laboratory, the idols would neither fall nor break.

Showing papers of the tender, the party further alleged that a month after the inauguration of the corridor by PM Modi, on November 24, 2022, the Smart City Administration ordered PU Colors Bedrock Primer, etc., worth Rs 96 lakh.

"Where did the funds go?" asked Verma.

The party alleged that in Ujjain, the same contractor installed a 25-feet statue of local Sindhi society with a cost of Rs 4.11 lakh, but the same contractor was paid Rs 10.2 lakh for 15 feet statue in the Mahakal Lok corridor. 

"Not just money, the quality of statues installed at Sindhi society premises is better than Mahakal Lok statues which did not fall in the gusty winds. Each statue should cost approximately Rs 3 lakh, which was paid to Rs 10 lakh," he alleged. 

"Moreover, they charged separately for tridents, wheels of chariots and other accessories."

"We demand that a sitting high court judge should investigate corruption and sub-standard work in the Mahakal Lok corridor project. We will submit all the proof and documents to the judge," Verma said.

He said that all three companies engaged in the construction of Mahakal Lok are from Gujarat. 

"It is the rule that once the DPR is passed, you can increase or decrease the funds by 10%. But the government gave a 100% increase and sanctioned another Rs 97 crore only to make idols with substandard Chinese material which could not withstand a storm. When we reached Mahakal Lok for a probe, all the idols were leaking colour. It was a precondition in the tender that a laboratory would be installed during the construction to test the strength of idols. However, no such laboratory was established," Verma said.

Congress leader Shobha Oza claimed that Chinese materials were used to construct the idols and the Mahakal Lok corridor. 

"Technical specifications meant for the idols were not fulfilled in the construction work, which resulted in the incident," she alleged.

The Congress further alleged that to get a compliment from PM Modi, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan carried out substandard work and installed temporary statues worth Rs 10 lakh each.

Demanding a probe chaired by a sitting high court justice, Congress claimed that the district administration is to reinstall the statues after the repair. But according to Hindu mythology, broken idols can't be reinstalled. It's against religious beliefs.

CM Chouhan had on Monday ordered an inquiry into the toppling of the statues at Mahakal Lok. Still, the incident has given fresh ammunition to the opposition Congress to target the BJP government.

On the one hand, the BJP opposes the usage of Chinese material, while on the other, it uses the same in the temple work, they said.

BJP leader and Minister for Urban Development Bhupendra Singh denied all the allegations and said in a tweet, "The Congress which is doing dirty politics regarding Mahakal Lok should remember that the minister in-charge of Ujjain was Sajjan Singh Verma and he was present in the presentation where the tender of our BJP government came in for praise. His signature is also proof of that. So what is their problem now?"

"While the Congress leaders are making unrestrained allegations, why don't they give it in writing and make a complaint with an affidavit?" he said.

The Congress, which is making charges of defects, had given its technical approval for the idols, he said. 

The broken idols will not be installed in the Mahakal Lok premises again, Singh said.

"There will be new idols. The chief minister has also given instructions for this."

"For the Congress, religion is not a matter of faith but an election event. When elections come, Congress starts dirty politics in the name of religion," he said.

Not just the state leaders, AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "There were discussions about the '40% commission' government of BJP in Karnataka. The BJP government of MP is one step ahead. Even God was not spared in this government; there was corruption even in idols."

(With PTI inputs)

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