Published: 11th February 2019
JNUSU accuses administartion of illegally felling trees for Vivekananda statue
The JNUSU President N Sai Balaji filed two RTIs asking the administration if they had the permission to fell trees and also the source of their funds for the statue
The JNU administration's decision to construct a life-sized Vivekananda Statue has been sparking controversies for a while now. The university's administration has allegedly felled trees illegally from the proposed site for the construction of the statue. An RTI filed by the JNU Students' Union President N Sai Balaji, yielded a reply that said that the university does not have the permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to fell the trees or break the rocks at the proposed site of the statue.
To support the same, the JNUSU President also shared two satellite images of the site with us, one from February 28, 2017, and the other from September 28, 2017, which clearly shows that the trees have been felled. "In February 2017, the trees were seen in the image. But that is not the case in September 2017. Trees have been felled after the decision was taken to construct the statue," says the students' union in a statement. The executive council had approved the statue construction in June 2017. It is proposed to be built next to the iconic Jawaharlal Nehru statue in the university.
In a separate RTI, Balaji asked the administration for the source of funds for the statue construction, which did not yield a proper reply. Balaji said that he had also appealed to the university's Engineering department, that was also rejected. "In JNU, all constructions are handled by the engineering department. They either build it or they give the tender to someone. But if they aren't revealing the source of funds, they're clearly trying to hide something," he says. Previously, there were reports that the university's alumni are funding the construction. "I suspect that the money is coming from JNU's internal funds. This could be the reason for slashing the library budget and all other fund cuts," Balaji added.