Two years after lofty vows, plans of tall Ambedkar statues haven’t taken shape

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 13, 2018

The announcements came fast and in competitive spirit.

Circa March-April 2016, N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao, the Chief Ministers of AP and Telanagana respectively, committed to constructing 125-feet tall statues of BR Ambedkar.

The occasion coincided with Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary.

Two years later, on the eve of the 127th birth anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution, the ideas remain are either on the drawing board, in the design stage, or efforts to lay the foundation stone.

The first to go to town with the ambitious project was Naidu, who said in March 2016 that an imposing statue would be built on a 10-acre plot in Amaravati. Plans were unveiled to develop a memorial with a garden, a convention centre, a Buddhist meditation hall, musem and library that would reflect the great leader’s teachings as well.

Not to be outdone, KCR, as the CM of neighbouring Telangana is known, said the world’s tallest statue of Ambedkar would be built in Hyderabad in a record one year. The foundation stone would be laid and the statue commissioned in a year by April 2017, he had announced.

Those were heady days of competition between the separated Telugu States, and each CM tried to be more vocal than the other. Compulsions were to fulfil promises, appease voter constituents and start delivering.

Status update

So where do the the statues stand now?

The AP chief Minister is all set to launch the final design or ‘Aakruti Aavishkarana’ for the statue and project at a function on Saturday in Sakhamuri village, about a km from the Secretariat in Amaravati. A committee had gone through five designs that were prepared by a Mumbai-based consultant. After several rounds of meetings, Naidu approved of one.

Very soon, tenders would be called for and the project taken up. The 20-acre government land will see the development of a garden, museum, library, conference hall, etc, said Joint Director (Social Welfare) and Executive Director (Tourism), Mallikarjun.

Interestingly, he was instrumental in the design and construction of a 125-feet tall Buddha statue in old Amaravati village, which faces the river Krishna in Guntur district. The project began in 2002 was completed in 2012, largely because he drove the project with help from people and organisations, Mallikarjun told BusinessLine.

Since the Ambedkar project is a government initiative, it should be completed soon, he felt.

In Telangana, following KCR’s announcement, a committee was set up with deputy CM Kadiyam Srihari and experts. The team visited China, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh to get an idea of statues.

The government-appointed Design Associates, Mumbai, are well-known for their work on the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue and the statues erected during the Mayawati regime in UP (that included an Ambedkar statue). A couple of designs have been prepared, and the CM has to freeze a final design, said Ganapathy Reddy who is in charge of the project.

The location will be near the NTR Gardens, in the heart of Hyderabad. “Since it is an iconic statute of Ambedkar which includes intricacies, sensibilities, suitable landscaping, and needs good amount of research, it is taking time. Once the CM decides on the best design, we will call for tenders and identify a contractor to implement the project,” he explained.

Published on April 13, 2018

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