LAST YEAR, the Akhilesh regime had imported a fountain worth Rs 45 crore from France to be installed at his pet project — the Gomti River Front. It had arrived in Mumbai by ship and was then taken to Kanpur by a goods train five months ago. Since then, it has been lying in a Railways goods yard. The reason: The government had not paid custom duty of Rs 10 crore for the fountain.
The new government has now come to the rescue. “The government will pay custom duty of Rs 10 crore. The amount will be paid soon and the fountain will reach Lucknow in the next few days,” Principal Secretary (Irrigation) Suresh Chandra said on Tuesday. However, paying Rs 10 crore as custom duty seems insignificant when considered that the state government will have to arrange for another Rs 45 crore to make the fountain operational.
The fountain is proposed to be installed adjacent to the Ghaus Mohammad Stadium near Gandhi Setu and the banks of Gomti. Officials said that while Rs 20 crore is required to prepare a platform, another Rs 20 crore is needed for installation of the fountain and around Rs 5 crore will be spent on setting up a power sub-station for it.
Further, the government will have to select an agency to run and maintain the fountain. “At present, a firm is demanding Rs 5 crore to run and maintain the fountain only for two years,” said an official. Asked about the funds required to make it operational, Chandra said: “The source of the required amount is yet to be decided. The government will have to take clearance from the Cabinet to get fund under these heads.”
The order for procurement of the fountain was placed through global tendering when then CM Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav was the irrigation minister. Sources in the irrigation department said the fountain was unique and first-of-its-kind in India. “The water will create images of film stars and famous monuments of across the world,” said an official.
This comes amid the Adityanath government setting up a high-level committee to frame charges against those responsible for alleged embezzlement of funds in the Gomti River Front project. During an inspection in March, officials had informed the CM that while Rs 1,513 crore was allocated for the project, 95 per cent of the budget (Rs 1,435 crore) had already been spent but less than 65 per cent work was completed. The officials had revised the project cost to Rs 2,448 crore. Adityanath had directed them to review the project.