Around 136 idols have been installed at Ujjain's Mahakal Lok and Saptrishis are a big draw.
The damage of statues in Ujjain's Mahakal Lok corridor in a thunderstorm on Sunday has turned into a political slugfest ahead of state elections, with the BJP hitting out at the Congress over corruption allegations. The anti-corruption watchdog MP Lokayukta, meanwhile, has ordered a preliminary inquiry into the collapse.
The statues stood at the Ujjain Mahakal Lok temple corridor that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October last year. Ujjain is the site of one of 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
Around 136 idols have been installed at Mahakal Lok. The big draws are the statues of Saptrishis -- Vashishtha, Vishwamitra, Kanva, Bhardwaj, Atri, Vamdev and Shaunak.
The 10-to-25-feet high idols weighing 3 quintals each are made of Fiber Reinforced Plastic and installed on a 10-ft pillar.
On Sunday, six of the seven statues fell off their pedestals and two were damaged amid a thunderstorm with a wind speed of 45 to 55 km per hour.
Alleging massive corruption in the construction and installation of the statues, the opposition Congress formed a fact-finding team.
The probe committee formed by the state's former Chief Minister Kamal Nath alleged the damage has exposed the state government that is working on 50 per cent commission model. The party has demanded an investigation by a sitting High Court judge.
"We don't believe in any government agency. Which is why we want a sitting High Court judge to investigate this matter," said former minister and senior Congress leader Sajjan Singh Verma, who headed the team.
The BJP said the Congress was politicizing the issue to hurt religious sentiments.
"Sajjan Singh Verma was the minister-in-charge of Ujjain when the presentation was done. His signature is in the proceedings. The Chief Secretary praised the tender we had prepared. So what happened today?" said Minister of Urban development Bhupendra Singh.
The statues, he added, will not be repaired but new statues will be installed in their place. The statues being in the DLP (Defect Liability Period), the contractor will reinstall the idols.
Documents accessed by NDTV show that in 2017, the BJP government decided to develop the Mahakal Lok temple corridor. The tender process was conducted the next year.
Approval for the project was given by Ujjain Smart City on 7 January 2019, when the Congress came to power. Work order issued in March that year, which included around 100 idols. The payments were made by the Congress government in January and February.
The CIPET (Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology) gave a report on 12 February 2022, when again the BJP was in power, in which the FRP material was said to be as per the standards. Development consulting group IPE Global evaluated, verified and supervised the work,
A report by the Ujjain divisional commissioner said Sunday's thunderstorm could have been behind the collapse of the statues.
State Lokayukta Justice NK Gupta, meanwhile, has ordered a preliminary inquiry into the matter. A team of technical experts will conduct a spot inspection on Saturday.
Sources said the Lokayukta probe will zero in on four points, including who made the decision to install fibre-reinforced-plastic-based statues, whether they kept to the proposed quality parameters, the base was robust and the possibility of corruption by public servants.
This will be the second Preliminary Enquiry by the Lokayukta into Mahakal Lok-related construction works.