ITDC to tidy up Jallianwala Bagh for tourism

JBA view of the area adjoining the Jallianwala Bagh, which has been cleared for setting up a visitors’ facility centre, in Amritsar.

The Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has decided to spruce up the historic Jallianwala Bagh memorial for tourism promotion. The ITDC will spend Rs 5 crore and has prepared a design to give a new look to the place and a presentation has been scheduled for January 15 to highlight the design details.

After attending a meeting with ITDC officials and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of India, deputy commissioner K.S.Pannu told The Tribune here on Saturday the demand of a Son-et-Lumiere (light-and-sound programme) at the Jallianwala Bagh would be met soon. Installation of the system would begin shortly.

Municipal commissioner D.P.S.Kharbanda was also directed to take action against residents in the vicinity of Jallianwala Bagh, who had opened doors and windows overlooking the memorial in violation of building by-laws.

S.K.Mukherji, secretary of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (JBNM), said certain encroachments had come up around the memorial and a couple of restaurants also had chimneys very close to the memorial.

Following concerns by Ministry of Culture officials present at the meeting, it was also decided to preserve the bullet marks dating back to the 1919 massacre .

“These buildings have been identified for maintaining the original character of the memorial. One building with bullet marks is in the southern corner and the second on the right side of the main entrance is in dilapidated condition. But the acquisition of these properties can create litigation thus hindering development of the project,” said Pannu.

He added the ITDC design included a visitors’ facility centre with computerised system to give vital facts on the massacre. The gallery of paintings of martyrs would also be revamped as part of the project. The large oil painting of the massacre scene at Jallianwala Bagh was handed over to the National Research Laboratory for conservation of cultural property on November 24 for conservation and restoration.

Five private structures sharing walls with the entrance of the memorial were recently demolished by the administration to make space for the visitors’ facility centre.

“We wanted the design for the revitalisation of the Jallianwala Bagh should be presented to the people of Amritsar,” he said.

Like the historic jail in the Andamans, the Jallianwala Bagh makes a perfect case for holding a light-and-sound show so that more visitors are attracted to the place and learn more about the incident in which hundreds of Indians laid down their lives at the Jalliawana Bagh on the Baisakhi day in 1919, said a spokesman of the JBNM Managing Committee.

Former Prime Minister late Narasimha Rao had sanctioned Rs 2.5 crore in 1998 for the memorial . But the project did not materialise.

It was also decided to take certain “critical” buildings of historic value, essential for maintaining the original character of the memorial, for acquisition as part of the development project. The secretary of the JBNM will identify such buildings and the district administration provide the tentative cost of acquisition.

The meeting was attended by R.L.Bhatia, Governor of Kerala and chairman of the Managing Committee, D.K.Shah, ITDC official, Love Verma, joint secretary, Ministry of Culture, S.K.Mukherji, secretary, JBNM, and K.S.Pannu, DC .

Politicians bunk meeting

Even though the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial had invited Amritsar MP Navjot Sidhu, mayor Shawet Malik and MLA O.P. Soni for the meeting, they failed to show up. It turned out to be an endless wait for Bhatia and the Government of India officials who had come to Amritsar specially for the meeting. 

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