Govt puts off decision on Ambedkar statue

The State Cabinet on Thursday failed to take any decision on the controversial issue of shifting the Dr Ambedkar statue from near the east gate Vidhana Soudha temporarily to pave the way for Metro rail work.

It has, however, authorised Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to take an appropriate decision after consulting all sections. Briefing reporters about the Cabinet decision, Minister V S Acharya said the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has sought permission to shift the statue to complete underground work of Metro rail. "There is no option but to shift the statue if work has to go ahead. The Cabinet has authorised the chief minister to take an appropriate decision in this regard after consulting a core-committee comprising the Social Welfare Minister A Narayanaswamy," he added.

Work on Namma Metro has almost come to a standstill for the last six months due to the controversy surrounding shifting of the statue. While the BMRCL had informed the government that it has no option but to shift the statue to take up the underground work, some Dalit organisations have been vehemently opposing it. Delay in implementation had escalated the project cost by an estimated Rs 100 crore, sources said.

The BMRCL has to blast rocks that are about 800 meters deep inside the earth as part of the underground work. It is feared that the statue would develop cracks if it is not shifted. The BMRCL had also constructed a pedestal near the west gate of Vidhana Soudha to shift the statue there about six months ago. But the government did not give permission to shift the statue in view of protests, sources added.

Statues of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose have already been removed from the Vidhana Soudha premises for the purpose. The shifting of these statues, however, would be temporary and they would be re-installed after the construction work is complete, official sources said.

Sources said the government had recently sought the technical opinion of experts at IIT, Madras, on the need for shifting the statue.

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