Yet another project for Qila Mubarak

In fact, this is the umpteenth such project proposed for the dilapidated fort. Scores of such plans in the past have failed to bring the desired result. Sometimes, financial constraints of the Punjab Government have proved to be a deterring factor while at other times, there have been charges of corruption that have stopped the restoration work.

The project has been assigned at the request of the Punjab Government to the ASI to help restore the lost glory of the historic fort, under which the latter will send experts to the fort to make out the causes of the deterioration of the painted chambers, identification of deposits on the paintings and chemical reagents required for the restoration work.

Sources in the department say that the financial condition of the state may still prove to be the biggest impediment in the way of proper renovation work.

Experts in the department say that the paintings can be restored with the help of various organic solvents which are chosen after identification of the nature and cause of the deposits. The solvents are tested in the laboratory before being used. The restored works can look as good as new after the right kind of treatment and can be preserved for years together.

Qila Mubarak – the only residential fort built by Sikh rulers, is famous for its rare painted chambers and engravings on the walls. Its blend of Mughal, Rajasthani, Punjabi and British architecture is one of its kind in the country.
Till date, factors that have been held responsible for the deterioration include the presence of a chemical analyst’s laboratory in the building, that was shifted from its premises early this year. It was alleged that the lab used to dispose off its jars containing chemicals on the roof of the chambers and with rain water the chemicals seeped into the walls and roof of chambers.

Another factor was the seepage of rain water due to the dilapidated roof. The already crumbling building of the fort was declared a protected monument, after a Public Interest Litigation was filed by late Mr A.S. Cheena, President of INTUC, in the early 1990s, which said that the fort was not being conserved.

Various government offices that were housed in the fort building were shifted following the PIL. Ranwas – the abode of queens, that used to shelter the offices,has already crumbled down due to which four painted chambers and a Sheesh Mahal was damaged.

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