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Is this a school? A hospital? It's the latest Maya Stupa

Is this a school? A hospital? It's the latest Maya Stupa

Author: Lalmani Verma
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 10, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/is-this-a-school-a-hospital-its-the-latest-maya-stupa/457001/0

Forget what happens on May 16 when results come in. Fed by taxpayers' money, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's never-ending mission to build memorials, ostensibly for Dalit icons, rolls on-unchecked.

So if the country's biggest dome is coming up as part of the Kanshi Ram Memorial, the latest are two giant structures, whose metallic domes mark the skyline on the banks of the Gomti river. Called stupas, these structures, fast taking shape at the sprawling Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow, are being built at an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore.

Each is being built on a 20-foot-high platform across 5 lakh square feet, standing about 200 m away from the main structure of the memorial. The stupas will have 34-foot-high cylindrical atriums topped with hemispherical domes, each 30 m in diameter.

These have come up on part of the 25 acres incorporated in the memorial after demolishing the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Stadium last year. Officials said statues of Dalit icons will be installed in the stupas - eight in each. "The statues are white marble and are being sculpted in Ahmedabad. Each will be 18-foot-high and cost over Rs 2 crore," said a contractor involved with the project that is expected to be completed in four months.

Work is being done by the UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam but UPRNN Managing Director C P Singh and Project Manager Rakesh Chandra declined to discuss the project.

An elephant gallery with 60 stone statues of the BSP's election symbol and a gallery with statues of six Dalit icons, including Mayawati; a Buddha Sthal and two plazas are being developed. Three statues of Mayawati have already been installed, two more are planned for the stupas.

Sources said the stupa foundation is made of concrete. Its walls are also concrete and three metres thick. The foundation is approximately 40 feet deep - 20 feet buried in the platform.

The platform, the outer walls of the stupas, and the metallic domes - all will be covered with signature Dhaulpur stone extensively used in the Ambedkar Memorial. Each stupa will have entrances on three sides. Both will be connected by a common gallery lined with stone columns. The floor will be granite and the steps to the stupas have already been covered with granite.

The development of Ambedkar Memorial, earlier known as Ambedkar Park, was taken up when Mayawati first became Chief Minister and it was completed in 2003. After May 2007, when Mayawati again became Chief Minister, large parts of the memorial were demolished and reconstruction began on a much bigger scale. The stadium, which was built at a cost of Rs 100 crore in 1997, was demolished to incorporate its land in the memorial.

And the building goes on

* Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal (Ambedkar Memorial): Started in Mayawati's first tenure as CM on 23 acres, it now spreads across 123 acres in Gomti Nagar; revamp began in May 2007 on project completed in 2002 for Rs 150 cr.

* Manyawar Kanshi Ram Memorial: 42 acres on Jail Road, Alambagh. Rs 370 cr spent; statues of Mayawati, Kanshi Ram installed.

* Kanshi Ram Bahujan Nayak Park: 4,800 sq m at cost of Rs 4 crore. Construction started on May 1. Statues of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati installed.

* Ramabai Ambedkar Rally Maidan: 51 acres on Bijnaur Road for Rs 65 crore; construction began in August 2007.

* Kanshiram Sanskritik Sthal: LDA carved out 80 acres from Smriti Upvan, built for Kargil martyrs. Rs 90 crore allocated. Mayawati statue installed.

* Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prateek Sthal: 2 acres on Gomti embankment; completed in April 2008 for Rs 7 crore. Statues of Kanshi Ram, Mayawati installed.

* Manyawar Kanshi Ram Yaadgar Vishram Sthal: Guesthouse on 13, Mall Avenue, initially allotted to Mayawati. Two halls, dozen rooms, garden. Cost: Rs 12 cr.

* Buddha Sthal and Sharda Canal Front Development: 6,000 sq m on VIP Road in Alambagh for Rs 90 crore. Statue of Buddha under a canopy. 100 stone columns, each with an elephant head.

* Eco Park: Extension of Buddha Sthal on 30 acres; Cost: Rs 50 crore.

* Samta Mulak Chauraha and Ambedkar Chauraha: 2 roundabouts and 2 crossings at Samtamulak Chauraha; statues of Dalit icons to be installed.

* Buddha Shanti Upwan: 18-acre park on Kanpur Road. Cost: Rs 15.15 cr. Work began in April; marble statue of Buddha to be installed.

* Prerna Sthal: Life-size statues of Mayawati, Kanshi Ram and Ambedkar.

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