Uttar Pradesh government is going to demolish three jails of Lucknow for the expansion of Ambedkar Sthal, the dream project of Chief Minister Mayawati. These three jails include District Jail, Model Jail and Women Jail. Although, the High Court has stayed the demolition of these jails and allowed for their modernisation, the state government is adamant to demolish them and has even ordered for shifting of the inmates from these jails to a new jail, which is still under construction.
The urgency behind shifting of the prisoners from these jails is based on the need to spare additional 80 acres of land for the dream project of Mayawati. The government wants to expand the Ambedkar Sthal, which is already spread over an area of 101 acres, adjacent to the jail buildings. The expansion programme is said to be the part of a series of projects in the name of BR Ambedkar, Ramabai Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj, etc.
In the name of the above-mentioned Bahujan Samaj stalwarts, Mayawati has already spent crores of rupees from the state exchequer. The Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal, Prerana Sthal, Ambedkar Smarak Sthal, Ramabai Sthal, Kanshi Ram Memorial and Kanshi Ram Park are some of the examples. Seven statues have also been installed there. There are two statues of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati at Mal Avenue area in Lucknow. She did not stop here. In two years of her regime, she unveiled at least four additional statues of herself. Sources say the average cost of one statue is about Rs 25 lakh.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has served a notice to the state government in response to a PIL against the spending binge and sought a report on construction within four weeks. With the four-week period to respond, the Mayawati government has got some more time to spruce up the parks, memorials and statues, so dear to her.
This is an open secret that this whimsical decision of the Chief Minister is an over-burden on the state exchequer. But for Mayawati, it does not matter. During her tenures of chief ministership, she concentrated only on these types of projects rather than initiating any concrete developmental project. This is the fourth term of her chief ministership. In her every tenure, she concentrated only on constructing parks, smriti sthals, renaming universities after Kanshi Ram, BR Ambedkar, Ramabai Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Narayan Guru, Shahuji Maharaj etc. Nearly Rs 2700 crore have been spent on these non-developmental works. In her first two regimes, she spent Rs 200 crore on Ambedker Park, Parivartan Chowk, Ambedkar Bus Station, Prerana Sthal, etc. During the present tenure too, following her decision the Ambedkar Udyan has been demolished completely and Rs 2000 crore are being spent on its renovation. This is also an extra burden on the state exchequer. Her decision to acquire 150 acres of land around Ramabai Sthal for parking is facing a severe protest from the local residents. The matter is pending in Lucknow Bench of High Court. The court has sought a detailed report on this project.
It is worth mentioning here that the new jail building, still under construction at Mohanlal Ganj, lacks the basic amenities. Sources say the senior officers of the jails are under immense pressure to pave the way for shifting the jail inmates to the new jail. Succumbing to the pressure, the jail authorities are learnt to have identified the first batch of 100 inmates, which is expected to be transferred to the new building soon. The jail authorities are panicky because the present structure of the new building not only falls short of basic amenities but also does not have anything in the name of security—not even a gate to the main entrance.
A senior jail officer told Organiser that for the jail staff office there are rooms, which do not have even doors and windows; the location does not even have proper power supply. But the project is on the priority list of the Chief Minister! Therefore, none dare raise a voice. The Model Jail along with the Women Jail, houses around 400 inmates, all of whom are convicts serving life sentence for crimes like murder, etc. Such inmates require high-level security. The jail authorities feel the incomplete new jail building may come as a blessing in disguise for the inmates who can see their freedom at a short distance and easily attainable without much efforts.