My City Preserve glorious heritage of Amritsar (Part II)

The aim of this project was to give 60’ wide across to these important areas. In fact this was the beginning for the destruction of heritage on one hand and invitation to the traffic on other hand.

Another setback to the heritage city was the “Corridor Plan”, termed by the media and “Beautification of Areas around Golden Temple Complex” the name given by the authorities. Under the ‘Beautification Plan’ my city’s gorgeous buildings, bazaars were knocked down and a corridor created which has encouraged traffic all around the sacred place.

My city still has unique land use; one can find life, hustle and bustle, as there is mixed land use. But now due to the change of land use, it is losing its character, both within and outside the walled portion. It is facing many problems, such as vehicular pollution, encroachments even on footpaths and shopping corridors, traffic congestion, garbage, besides others. Who is responsible? We the citizens, the lackadaisical attitude of the administration and poor enforcement are the major factors.

My city has many NGOs but even then it has not shown any results as far as cleanliness is concerned. The latest threat to the old historic part is of elevated road. It will not only destroy the streetscape but will have other serious implications, such as polluting properties along the road, the effect of pollutants on Harmandir Sahib (it is located on leeward side of the proposed parking) and the increasing number of vehicles towards it. Even this elevated road in the walled city is against the guidelines of the National Commission on Urbanisation (NCU) as well as of the International Council on Monuments Sites (ICO). No impact assessment study has been undertaken. The surroundings of Harmandir Sahib should be declared as a traffic-free zone. Battery operated buses should be started and we must think of an underground metro link to this important spiritual place.

We must make our city clean and green without disturbing its heritage character. Let us explore its religious, cultural and recreational heritage tourism potentials, which will also help in its sustainability. We must identify places related to prominent personalities and then evolve conservation strategy for their conservation.

Here, I must mention that the residence of Dr Bhai Vir Singh (four acres with trees such as almond, walnut planted by the great personality) has been preserved as a museum by the Bhai Vir Singh Sahit Sadan, New Delhi, through its local committee, but the original house and the Press from where the Khalsa Samachar (weekly newspaper started in 1899 and now published from New Delhi) was published are not given any importance. For this I have established a non-government organisation — Society for Educating Values, Architectural & Cultural Conservation (SEVAC). Support from all those who love my city of glorious heritage is welcome.

(Concluded)

The author is Associate Professor, Conservation professional, Guru Ram Das School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University.
 

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