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Saptarishi statue collapse: Govt fights back corruption allegations, sculptor defends his design

2023-11-30 19:37:37source:qsj

The Madhya Pradesh Government fought back allegations of corruption in the Mahakal Lok corridor where Saptarishi statues collapsedand suffered damages due to gusty winds at Mahakaleshwar temple premises in Ujjain city, even as its lead architect and sculptor defended the use of Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FPR) to make the statues.

Saptarishi statue collapse: Govt fights back corruption allegations, sculptor defends his design

Six out of the seven idols of ‘Saptarishis’ installed at the Mahakal Lok corridor, developed on the Mahakaleshwar temple premises collapsed and suffered damages due to gusty winds. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of the Mahakal Lok corridor project in October last year, which has now become mired in political controversy after a enquiry team constituted by former Chief Minister Kamal Nath visited the premises on Tuesday and levelled allegations of corruption against the Government.

Saptarishi statue collapse: Govt fights back corruption allegations, sculptor defends his design

The Congress party had already accused the government of using substandard material to construct the statues.

Saptarishi statue collapse: Govt fights back corruption allegations, sculptor defends his design

The lead architect of the Mahakal project Krishna Murari Sharma told The Indian Express,”Across India, statues are made with FRP. It helps in greatly reducing the cost. You also need extremely skilled labour to make stone, bronze or copper sculptures. We had carried out all the technical checks when the project was being undertaken,” Sharma said.

The lead sculptor of the project, Vijay Podwal had worked in the project for 3 years and stands by his work and the use of FRP to make the statues.

“As technology advances we must use the most advanced material. FRP is used in high tech industries like the aeronautical industry as well. The material is lightweight. It can be easily moved and is durable compared to metal and wood which start to deteriorate during rains over a period of time. If we would have made stone sculptures it would have taken us more than a decade at a cost five times more than the budget,” Podwal told The Indian Express.

He said that the sculptures which were mostly sitting sculptures “had sufficient self stability to withstand high wind speeds.”


“These were statues which were in sitting forms. Even delicate statues like a dancing statue we use FPR material and they are sufficient to withstand high wind speeds. I think that since these statues were elevated on a fabricated pedestal, the winds went into the gap between the statue and the pedestal to topple the statue. We will wait for the formal report to find out what happened,” Podwal said.

Ujjain’s Mahakal Lok, 6 idols of Saptarishi were broken by a storm, which was inaugurated by the PM in October last year; About 850 crore rupees were spent on this project.

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Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Bhupendra Singh held a press conference where he alleged that art work, installation of the sculpture and other technical aspects related to the Mahakal Lok project was carried out during the Congress rule.

“There is no corruption here. Congress is doing dirty politics. They have not given a single evidence of corruption. The BJP makes the allegation that if congress is making allegations of corruption then this project was under them twice and they are accepting that they did corruption.We did out work honestly and with high standards. Don’t hurt the religious sentiments of the people, this has been their (Congress) character. If they have evidence of corruption then show it to the people or apologise,” Singh said.

The Minister said that over hundred Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) statues were made at a cost of Rs 7.5 crore and artwork carried out on them “was only possible on such statues” and cited the examples of Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, Haryana, the Akshardham temple in Delhi and other other projects were FRP statues were used.


“Mahakal Lok project was taken considering the religious significance it holds in Ujjain. The work was carried out in high standards…The art is only possible on these statues. It takes a lot of time on statues made of other material and even then You can’t make that art. The agency which made this has a three year contract and they will replace the statues. The Commissioner (Ujjain) has also given the report that due to high wind speeds several buildings and trees had fallen in the area,” Singh said.

Congress spokesperson, KK Mishra, who was part of the enquiry team which visited the area on Tuesday has called for Singh’s resignation alleging that it has “become pastime of the government to put the blame of its big sins on the Congress.”

“It would have been better that being the Minister of Urban Administration and Development, he would have accepted this historic corruption with morality and responsibility and resigned from his post till it is investigated,” Mishra said.

Just a week after it was inaugurated by the PM, Ujjain’s Congress MLA Mahesh Parmar approached the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta alleging financial irregularities in the construction following which notices were issued to 15 officials.

Ujjain’s Congress MLA Mahesh Parmar said, “I had filed a complaint with the Lokayukta and notices were issued. But following that nothing much happened in that case, if an investigation was conducted on the basis of my complaint then today the officials involved in this corruption would have been investigated. Bhagwan Mahakal will not forgive these sinners, justice will be brought upon them.”

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Ujjain city officials have said that since the project was in the initial stages of the five years defect liability period, the company that made and installed them will replace them at the earliest.




The corridor, said to be one of the longest in the country, traverses the old Rudrasagar lake which has been revived as part of the redevelopment project around the Mahakaleshwar temple, one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ in the country.

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Measuring more than 900 metres in length, the corridor has around 108 aesthetically ornate pillars made of intricately-carved sandstones that depict the Anand Tandav Swaroop (a form of dance of Lord Shiva), 200 statues and murals of Lord Shiva and goddess Shakti.


© The Indian Express (P) Ltd