High Court tells Bihar govt to justify spending on museum, hearing today
The Bihar Museum, being constructed over 13 acres of land at Bailey Road, has 2.5 lakh square feet of construction area.
The Nitish Kumar government is in the dock over an international museum project worth Rs 500 crore being constructed by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) in Patna.
The Patna High Court, hearing a PIL, recently asked the state government to justify huge expenses, particularly Rs 22 crore consultancy fee given to a Canadian firm. The court will hear the government’s response on Tuesday.
The petitioner, one Ashok Kumar, had said that when the people of Bihar were “deprived of basic amenities”, building a museum at such an exorbitant cost amounts to squandering public money. Then chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who otherwise did not stall the project, had often derided it saying “welfare of the poor and teachers was more important than setting up a museum at a huge expense”.
The Bihar Museum, being constructed over 13 acres of land at Bailey Road, has 2.5 lakh square feet of construction area. The new museum will have latest audio-visual technology and several galleries besides a discovery room, conservation lab, amphitheatre and is being built following international building design.
Bihar Museum Director Jay Prakash Narayan Singh told The Indian Express: “There is unnecessary controversy about the project that every Bihar resident will be proud of someday… We have written to 11 embassies and consulates at Fiji, Suriname, Mauritius and wherever people of Bihar went and left their mark to collect material for the museum that will have 60 employees.” The annual maintenance cost will be about Rs 1 crore.
He said the state government had given Rs 22 crore consultancy fee to Toronto-based firm Lord Cultural Resources. Bihar cabinet had given clearance of Rs 400 crore on 8 May, 2012. Later, building construction department had prepared revised estimates at Rs 498.49 crore.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice L Narasimha Reddy and Justice Vikash Jain had said: “The court wants to know whether this amount is justified on the basis of norms and standards of any other international museum… We want to get some agency to scrutinise the total estimated cost of the museum.”
Source:: Indian Express