Published: 07th August 2019
JNU Vivekananda Statue row: Engineering department hadn't sought permissions, says RTI reply
The Vivekananda statue's construction in JNU has been sparking controversies for a while now. The RTI was filed by the JNUSU President
Controversies are no stranger to the Vivekananda Statue at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). There have been allegations on how the JNU administration had cut the library fund to handle the statue construction expenses and about how trees were illegally felled to make space. Now, information received through an RTI query indicates that the university's Engineering Department hadn't sought the necessary internal permissions for its construction.
"No request regarding the construction of Vivekananda statue at AD block was received from the engineering department," reads the response by Gagandeep Singh, Deputy Registrar (Finance) to the RTI filed by the JNUSU President N Sai Balaji. Previously, the university's Rector III Rana Pratap Singh had told the Indian Express that "The suggestion for the statue was given by the engineering department, and the EC has given its nod in principle. The final details of the same — where and when it will be installed — are yet to be decided.”
The RTI also states that the university's estate branch hadn't constituted a building committee. Also, the estate branch hadn't granted a permission letter to the contractor for the statue's construction. Balaji had filed an RTI earlier this year, which yielded a reply that said that the university does not have the permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to fell the trees or break the rocks at the proposed site of the statue. But at the same time, trees were cut from the proposed site. "We are not protesting anymore. We are just exposing the truth here. We are against the statue culture. That money could have been used to buy books here," says Balaji.
The construction of the life-size statue of Swami Vivekananda began sometime around November 2018 and is nearing completion. Until now, the students are unsure about who funds it. Another RTI that sought the source of funds did not yield a proper response. There have also been speculations that the statue is funded by the alumni. The administration had reportedly decided to install it to make the university look more pleasing.