Idols’ collapse in MP's Mahakal corridor: Congress alleges corruption; govt denies

Congress probe team visits the spot, to register FIR against those responsible

A Congress team inspects the damaged idols of 'saptarishis' installed at the Mahakal Lok A Congress team inspects the damaged idols of 'saptarishis' installed at the Mahakal Lok

Even as the Madhya Pradesh government denied allegations of corruption regarding the collapse and damage of idols of seven sages at the Mahakal Lok corridor in Ujjain on Sunday following gusty winds, the Congress is on an all out attacking mode over the issue.

A Congress probe team led by ex-minister Sajjan Singh Verma visited the Mahakal Lok corridor on Tuesday along with experts and local people to examine the ground conditions and get to the truth of the incident. The team said that it will submit the technical report on the incident to party state chief Kamal Nath within a week and will register an FIR against the persons found responsible. Also, the party will approach the High Court with a public interest litigation (PIL).

Meanwhile in Delhi, AICC in-charge of Madhya Pradesh J.P. Agarwal and national media coordinator Abhay Dubey attacked the BJP government in the state alleging huge corruption in installation of faulty idols and playing with the sentiments of Hindus. The Congress leaders also demanded that a High Court monitored probe be instituted in the matter.

On Sunday afternoon, six out of the seven idols of saptarishis (seven sages) installed in the Mahakal Lok collapsed from their pedestals and got damaged after high velocity winds blew in the area.

As the news, videos and photos of the damaged idols – made of fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) and hollow from inside allegedly with no metal support – spread, the Congress leveled allegations of huge corruption in the Mahakal Lok project. The Congress also raked up the complaint made to Lokayukta by party MLA Mahesh Parmar alleging that undue benefits of over Rs 1 crore had been provided to the Gujarat-based company involved in project construction by changing tender items and schedule of rates. The Lokayukta had issued notices to three IAS officers in the matter, but later the probe did not progress.

On Tuesday, Urban Administration and Development Minister Bhupendra Singh in a press conference denied all the allegations of corruption in the project and rather sought to highlight that the work order was issued and part payment for the art work (construction and installation of idols) was made during the Congress regime in 2020, though the final payment of installation was done by the BJP government.

The minister said that the quality of the FRP material used in the idols had undergone third-party testing by the Bhopal-based Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology (CIPET) and had passed the quality test in February 2022.

Singh said that FRP idols are installed in many religious and other places across the country and the world and is a well-established process. He said that the Ujjain divisional commissioner inquiry report has made it clear that there was no issue with the quality of the idols and the main cause of collapse and damage was the high velocity winds and fall from a height of 10 feet.

Congress chief spokesperson K.K. Mishra denied that a work order was issued or payment made during the Congress regime. “Would we select a Gujarat based company for the work? This alone busts their lies. Actually it has become a habit with the BJP government to blame the Congress for everything that is wrong. I challenge the minister to invite the Congress along with all government documents on this allegation and we are ready for rebuttal point by point.”

MP Congress media advisor Piyush Babele said that at least by the way of leveling allegations, the BJP government accepted that Congress had started the work on the Mahakal Corridor project, something that it alway denied in public.

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