BJP-RULED STATES IN COMPETITION TO BUILD TALLEST STATUES, WHILE PEOPLE SUFFER FOR BASIC AMENITIES

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The Gujarat government started building a colossal statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in October 2014. — File photo

According to various media reports since the cost of making these statues is likely to be lower if they are built in China, the governments in these states are likely to import them from China

 

KALEEM KAWAJA | Caravan Daily

IN THE last couple of years, three BJP ruled states in India have begun projects to build massive statues of their regional heroes, each costing hundreds of million dollars.

Gujarat: The first was Gujarat, where in 2014 the BJP government started the project to build a massive 700 foot tall statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the eminent freedom fighter from Gujarat, at the river front in Vadodra near the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat. The statue project under construction is expected to cost $470 million.

Maharashtra: The second in close competition was the state of Maharashtra where the BJP government  began the construction in 2015 for building of a 200 foot tall statue of Shivaji, the 17th century Maratha community chief, off the Arabian Sea coastline of Maharashtra, near Mumbai.  This project is expected to cost $300 million.

Uttar Pradesh: The third in this competition is the state of U.P. where the BJP government announced a week ago that they will build a 300 foot tall statue of Lord Rama, the pre-eminent god from the Hindu mythology, on the shore of the local river in Ayodhya, that Hindu mythology indicates is the place where Lord Rama was born.  The project is expected to cost more than $300 million.

In contrast to these super-expensive grandiose statues that will cost such huge amounts, in all three of these states the basic infrastructure of roads, bridges, railways, hospitals, schools, rain water drainage facilities, flood control projects, housing for the poor people are in very pathetic conditions and millions of people are suffering from hardships every day.

All three statues being very tall and massive and made of bronze are likely to cost huge money. According to various media reports  since the cost of making these statues is likely to be lower if they are built in China, the governments in these states are likely to import them from China. That will also cause much drain of India’s precious foreign currency reserves.

In contrast to these super-expensive grandiose statues that will cost such huge amounts, in all three of these states the basic infrastructure of roads, bridges, railways, hospitals, schools, rain water drainage facilities, flood control projects, housing for the poor people are in very pathetic conditions and millions of people are suffering from hardships every day.

A few months ago about 200 infants died in government hospitals in U.P. due to shortage of oxygen, medicine and other supplies. Last month 22 people were killed in a stampede at a foot bridge at a badly overcrowded railway station in Mumbai due to the narrow bridge being very old and deteriorated. In the monsoon season of 2017, many low income residential localities in Ahmedabad were flooded for several weeks, causing much hardship to the population there.

One wonders why in a poor country like India where the basic infrastructure sorely needs much improvement, the governments in these three states that are ruled by the BJP are in a competition to build the tallest and best statue of their local heroes? At this rate we could very well hear of a few more states announcing grandiose projects to build more and more statues.

With all of these states facing deteriorated infrastructure and facilities that are causing so much hardship to people, is it not much better to use these public funds and taxpayers’ money to improve the infrastructure in the cities and relieve the miseries of the common people. Why are such obvious issues not visible to the chief ministers and ministers in the above mentioned states and the BJP?

(The writer is a senior aerospace engineer at NASA. He is also the Executive Director of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.)

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