A mammoth 62-feet tall, 750-tonne Hanuman statue to be installed at the Sri Kodandarama Temple at Kacharakanahalli in Bengaluru continues to court controversy two months after it was transported to the city.
The statue, commissioned by Rama Chaithanya Vardhini Trust, was transported from Kolar to Bengaluru via Hennur Main Road, in a 300-wheel vehicle, on April 7. But the massive vehicle ferrying the statue wreaked havoc on its path, especially when it was stranded ahead of the Railway Bridge on Hennur Main Road as it was too tall to pass through the corridor.
"The chaos lasted till 9 pm in the night when the transporters finally decided to dig up the road to make way for the vehicle," recalls Sunil, who manages a music store near the railway bridge on Hennur Main Road.
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad confirmed to TNM then that the road would be repaired within two or three days by the people transporting it. While some of the damages on the roads were repaired with patchwork over a month after the incident, the 200-metre stretch under the railway bridge at Hennur Main Road continues to bring traffic to a standstill everyday as it is yet to be fixed.
"There is a traffic jam everyday during peak hours. It sometimes takes 30 minutes just to cross this stretch. Vehicles pile up on both sides and this is especially a problem when ambulances have to pass through. They are left stranded in this stretch in the mornings and evenings," explains Sunil.
Incidentally, Muni Naga Reddy, a chairman of the Rama Chaithanya Vardhini Trust, contested the Karnataka Assembly elections in May as a BJP candidate from Sarvagnanagar constituency. He, however finished a distant second to Congress leader KJ George. He claimed that the road will be repaired after the monsoon season and that the traffic pile-up on the road was happening due to the bridge being a bottle-neck area.
"The road under the bridge is very narrow compared to the wide Hennur Main Road and the traffic pile-up is happening because of that. We don't deny that we dug up the road near the bridge and that it needs to be fixed but along with that, the road under the bridge should also be widened," MN Reddy says.
Residents of nearby Hennur and Kothanur however say that the situation has worsened after the road was dug up to transport the statue. "The stretch under the bridge is not a busy junction and traffic does not jam up there under normal circumstances. It would slow down when it rains, the way it does across the city. But now that it has been deliberately dug up, the traffic during peak hours everyday is slowed down, taking anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes to cross over. And it is much worse when it rains due to the amount of water that fills up, taking 30 minutes or more just to get across those few meters," says Diana, a resident in the area.
Extensive damage was reported when the statue was transported in April with residents complaining that even newly installed lamp posts were uprooted in the area. "Near the railway bridge, there is no light 100 metres on either side now. So the area is dark as well in the night," adds Diana.
The Hanuman statue, which is yet to be installed, is currently in the premises of the temple in Kacharakanahalli. The temple trust is waiting for technical reports from engineers before going ahead with the installation of the statue.
Meanwhile, a case in the Karnataka High Court is discussing whether land where the statue is being installed is a part of a lake bed. MN Reddy dismisses the suggestion. "This had come up before as well. It is in an area identified as a government lake in revenue records but we had argued citing the history of the temple. The court had asked the Archaeological Survey of India to look into the issue and even they had given a report in favour of the temple citing its historic value," he argues.
According to reports, the statue costs Rs 10 crore. Over Rs 3.5 crore of this amount was reportedly kept aside only for transportation and licensing purposes.