Of stat­ues and squab­bling em­ploy­ees

Con­tro­versy over in­stalling busts in Shas­tri Bha­van

The Hindu - - CHENNAI - Den­nis S. Je­su­dasan

A con­tro­versy is brew­ing be­tween two sec­tions of Cen­tral govern­ment em­ploy­ees work­ing in of­fices at the Shas­tri Bha­van on Had­dows Road over the in­stal­la­tion of stat­ues.

While one sec­tion is de­mand­ing that the statue of the father of the In­dian Con­sti­tu­tion, B.R. Ambed­kar, be in­stalled in the fa­cade, an­other sec­tion is favour­ing in­stalling the statue of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Lal Ba­hadur Shas­tri — in whose mem­ory the build­ing is named — at the same spot.

In­ci­den­tally, the Union Min­istry of Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment has sanc­tioned the pro­posal for in­stalling a full­sized statue of Shas­tri in the fa­cade next to the na­tional flag­mast. But it has also ap­proved the pro­posal for in­stalling Ambed­kar’s bust­size statue in the lobby of one of the build­ings.

“Giv­ing promi­nence to one na­tional leader over the other is dis­crim­i­na­tion by the Min­istry. Ambed­kar is a na­tional leader and is the father of the Con­sti­tu­tion. His statue deserves to be in­stalled at the façade,” said Manimegalai V. Mani, pres­i­dent of Shas­tri Bha­van SC/ ST Women Em­ploy­ees Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion.

‘Added dis­crim­i­na­tion’

She also pointed out that while the Min­istry would bear the ex­penses in­curred for the in­stal­la­tion of Shas­tri’s statue, the SC/ST as­so­ci­a­tion has to foot the bill for Ambed­kar’s bust, which only added to the “dis­crim­i­na­tion”.

A se­nior of­fi­cial of the Cen­tral Pub­lic Works Depart­ment (CPWD), which main­tains the Shas­tri Bha­van cam­pus, said the lo­ca­tion had been fi­nalised by the Min­istry.

“There are three SC/ST as­so­ci­a­tions in­volved in this is­sue. Only one as­so­ci­a­tion is op­posed to the idea,” Yud­hi­s­tir Naik, Su­per­in­tend­ing En­gi­neer (Civil), CPWD said. He con­firmed that the Min­istry would in­cur the ex­penses to­wards Shas­tri’s statue, which would be be­tween ₹30 lakh and ₹32 lakh, in­clud­ing the pedestal of the statue. But Shas­tri Bha­van SC/ST Women Em­ploy­ees Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion has taken up the is­sue with the of­fice of the Pres­i­dent as well as with the Union Min­is­ter for Ur­ban Af­fairs.

At log­ger­heads: A view of Shas­tri Bha­van on Had­dows Road.

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