Waghodia BJP MLA Madhu Shrivastav, on Friday, threatened to “slap revenue officials” for allegedly delaying his pet project of installing a Hanuman idol in the centre of Mahadev pond in Wadi area of Vadodara city. Records, however, show that Shrivastav has already began construction of the statue without clearance from the revenue department.
Early on Friday morning, barely hours after the late night meeting between Savli BJP MLA Ketan Inamdar and state BJP President Jitu Vaghani ended on a happy note with Inamdar agreeing to withdraw his resignation after his “demands” for his constituency were met, messages of Shrivastav having threatened to resign began making sounds on political social media groups.
Within hours, Shrivastav declared that he wouldn’t resign, but instead “slap the officials of revenue department in their face” if they come to him. Shrivastav said, “This work is for dharma but under this BJP government, development works quickly happen but the dharma works take time. The revenue minister has been sitting on the file pertaining to this project deliberately.”
As the news of Shrivastav’s demands played out, Gujarat revenue minister Kaushik Patel clarified that the department was trying to expedite the project. “There is a high court ruling disallowing construction in water bodies… this has been an impediment in the process as the department needs to seek permission from the court before granting nod for the same. We are trying our best to expedite,” Patel told reporters in Gandhinagar.
Shrivastav also hurled expletives and manhandled local journalists when he was asked about the construction of statue being carried out without permission. The issue in contention is the construction of a 108-feet statue (including the base pedestal) of Hanuman inside the Mahadev temple located across the Prataprudra Hanuman temple in Wadi area of the city. Shrivastav’s son, Dipak is the sitting BJP corporator of the area. The proposal for the construction of the statue along with a bridge leading to the pedestal was cleared by the VMC in February 2019.
The VMC proposal, however, is subject to clearance from the revenue department. In fact, the resolution of the Standing Committee dated January 10, 2019 and the resolution thereafter of the General Board on February 11, 2019, approved in principal the installation of the statue which will be constructed by Amit Education and Charitable Trust — an NGO run by Shrivastav’s family. But, both resolutions also clearly state that the municipal commissioner is to approach the district collector to seek clearance from the revenue department for the construction.
“This is because, although the VMC is the caretaker of water bodies like ponds, the physical property belongs to the state government. Therefore, permission from the revenue department is mandatory. But Shrivastav has used his influence to have the work started without waiting for necessary clearance,” a VMC official said on condition of anonymity.
The original proposal of the VMC before the Standing Committee on January 2, 2019, states that the MLA had made a representation along with “people from the religious, spiritual, art and social fields” to install a Hanuman idol in the pond as it is “attached to the sentiments of the local residents”. The proposal states that the construction will be “complete responsibility of Amit Education and Charitable Trust as to costs and risks involved” but the “responsibility and power to approach the district collector for the permission from the revenue department be entrusted to the VMC Commissioner”. The Chairperson of the trust is one Shilpa M Shrivastav while the treasurer is Renu M Shrivastav, according to NGO records. The project ran into trouble in the monsoon season last year when Vadodara witnessed severe water logging and the pond was filled to its maximum capacity for the first time, mixed with sewage water, thus making it difficult for the construction to continue. Shrivastav had deployed pumping motors to drain out the water in order to restart the construction.
Dipak Shrivastav on Friday denied that the permission for the project was pending and blamed the delay on a “court matter”. Dipak told this newspaper, “We are constructing with permission from the VMC Commissioner and clearances are in place.” When asked about the pending clearance from the revenue department as stated by his father, Dipak evaded the question. VMC officials refused to comment on how Shrivastav was able to start the construction without permission.
While Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said the party will take action against the MLA for his behaviour, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said it was not necessary all demands put forth should be accepted. “There are guidelines for preservation of lakes, ponds and rivers. It is necessary the lake structure is not damaged. The Revenue department is working on approval for Madhubhai’s proposal,” the deputy CM said.
“However, it is not possible for the government to accept all the demands, as we need to work as per rules and regulations” he added.
With PTI inputs
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