On July 9, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh suspended the construction of Adi Shankaracharya statue to be built on Mandhata Parvat hill facing the Narmada river at Omkareshvara in Khandwa district. Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan had approved the 108ft tall statue.
The suspension came during a hearing of a petition filed by Lokhit Abhiyan Samiti, an Indore-based NGO. The organization opposed the construction on the grounds of cutting down trees, digging into the mountain, and neglecting local public faith. A divisive bench headed by Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and MP High Court Justice Vishal Mishra suspended construction and demanded a response from the BJP-led state government.
The petitioner argued that the statue named the ‘Statue of Unity’ would detract from the natural beauty of the area. The court also summoned the Khandwa District Collector, the DFO, the Revenue Officer and the representative of the State Archaeological Department.
A museum dedicated to Adi Shankaracharya and an international Advaita Vendanta Sansthan are also expected to be built with the statue. The cost of the project is Rs 2,141 crores. It is constructed under the supervision of the Culture and Tourism Department of Madhya Pradesh.
The court has now ordered that until the next hearing, no construction work should take place at the site. The statue, which is being built at a cost of 2,000 Crores, was expected to be completed in 2023.