Administration blind to unauthorised statues in North Andhra
The Supreme Court’s direction to local bodies and government agencies not to allow erection of statues in public places has set the civic authorities in the north coastal Andhra (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts) on search for unauthorised statues in the region.
Though the civic authorities have not so far found any statue that is causing traffic problem, they have nevertheless directed all their field staff to be vigilant about any illegal erection of statues in their respective areas.
Erection of statues of departed leaders by their followers is not new. But the followers of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who died in a helicopter crash in 2009 while he was chief minister, went on a statue erection spree across the state.
Though there are certain norms for erecting a statue in public places, political parties and followers of leaders and fans of celebrities do not bother to take prior permission from authorities concerned to erect statues of their beloved leaders. Here, authorities are also to blame. Though they are much aware of unauthorised installation and unveiling of statues, they keep quiet and not initiate any action. And the reason they cite for their inaction is strange.
“We have learnt of Supreme Court’s orders from the media but we are yet to receive official communication. Anyhow, we see no statues that warrant removal for obstructing traffic,” said S Balakrishna, chief city planner of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation.
Curiously, the administrations of Bheemili, Anakapalle, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Palasa, Amadalavalasa and Bobbili municipalities besides several gram panchayats are not aware of the Supreme Court’s order on statues. But district administration officials admit in private that there are a few unauthorised statues at many places but the local authorities concerned are not initiating any action.
“It is not the question of a statue being authorised or unauthorised. If we act against illegal erection of statues, there will be unrest. Moreover, employees and officials are overburdened with huge official work.
A drive against illegal statues will burden them further.But we are determined to remove any shrine or statue that is obstructing traffic and suggest an alternative place for installation.
Individuals or associations must take permission before embarking on any construction activity in public places,’’ said a senior official of the panchayat raj department in Vizianagaram district.