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    Posted on 25 October 2011

    Maya’s dream park is far from complete

    Finishing the work at the Dalit Prerna Sthal could take anything between a few months and a year or more, public not allowed entry despite inauguration

    Arpit Parashar

    The Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida. Cycles are not allowed inside its premises

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    Ayush Tripathi drove his seven-year-old son to Noida’s latest "famous" monument after his day at school. However, the father and son were shocked at what they were told at the entrance of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden better known as ‘Maya’s Park’. "Abhi park band hai. Entry nahi hogi (The park is closed. No entry.)". The park was inaugurated amidst much fanfare by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on 14 October, and the Tripathis visited the following weekend. Like Tripathi there were hundreds of others who visited the place hoping to catch a glimpse of the massive statues they saw during the live television coverage of the grand event. The mini-museum known as the Rashtriya Dalit Smarak (National Dalit Memorial) and the vast green expanse, built on an area of 82.5 acres along the banks of the Yamuna—looked to be the perfect spot for a weekend visit. Each visitor was turned away.

    “It is the most famous park in the country today and we live very close by. My son wanted to visit it and since it has now been inaugurated I wanted to bring him here,” said a disappointed Tripathi. The guards posted at the gates, however, had their orders.

    TEHELKA managed an entry and walked into a surreal scenario behind the gates. Construction work inside the Memorial was on in full swing. None of the massive structures, statues or even the park is ready for public viewing. Mayawati saw a quick cosmetic makeover and once her entourage left the workers were back on site. Workers and engineers say that while finishing the park could take another year, it cannot even partially be opened to the public for at least a few more months. “Apart from the statues (of Dr BR Ambedkar, Kanshiram and Mayawati) none of the sculptures are complete. The finishing work on stones and polishing the structure, including the dome, is yet to be completed,” an engineer at the site said. The green areas and other statues including those of the elephants along the Dalit Memorial also need work.

    Officials of the Noida Authority, meanwhile, have announced that the park will be opened to the public on 1 November. “Only finishing touches need to be given to the structures. It will be opened to the public after that,” a senior official said.

    At the construction site, however, things looked very different. Engineers, who are still working round the clock, said that they were given a 1 January deadline and were assured that the park will not be opened to public until then. “It will be impossible to finish work if the public is allowed inside,” pointed out Ganga Ram, a sculpting expert from UP’s Hardoi district standing amidst rubble and dust at the site. The memorial contains more than a dozen sculptures apart from the statues of Ambedkar, Kanshiram and Mayawati. The first section has sculptures depicting Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar handing over the copy of the Constitution of India to the President, adopting Buddhism in Nagpur and calling for equal rights for Dalits at a rally in Nasik. Other two sections portray events and struggles from Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshiram and Mayawati’s lives.

    So, why was the park inaugurated with such fanfare if it weren’t ready in the first place? BSP workers and officials of the Noida Authority say the park had to be inaugurated before completion because of orders from Lucknow. “Behenji (Mayawati) did not have time after 14 October as the campaigns and state-wide yatras (ahead of next year’s Assembly elections) will begin. That is why it was not possible to delay it anymore,” SK Gujjar, a party worker from the district told TEHELKA.

    “It was also important to start the campaign on a strong note. The park has been delayed enough already and the other (more than 20) projects were also to be inaugurated,” he said. “Election se pehle baakiyon ka muh band karma thha, (many mouths had to be shut before the election campaign) he added.

    Arpit Parashar is aSenior Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
    [email protected]

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    Posted on 25 October 2011



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