Admins half-hearted efforts bother heritage lovers

RbConservationists want the area around the wall be made encroachment-free to ensure proper facelift of the momentous structure.

Even as the restoration work of the historic Ram Bagh gate, connected with legendary king, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, has commenced, but the shops alongside the wall of the gate have put a question mark on the seriousness of the civic and district administration about the project.

Various conservationists and heritage lovers expressing serious concern over this have opined that these shopkeepers need to be rehabilitated and the area around the wall be made encroachment-free for the proper face lifting of the momentous structure.

They criticised the administration for its half-hearted approach towards the project of prime significance.

Even the conservation experts, who have undertaken the project to restore the original gate, which was the traditional route of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the Golden Temple from his summer palace Ram Bagh gardens, have shown their concern.

They feel that some of the shops and kiosks need to be demolished or shifted for its complete restoration. The entire route through which the Maharaja visited Darbar Sahib would regain its old glory as the experts have already drawn out a blue print and have earmarked the material to be used to conserve the old structure made of mud and lime.

The wall of the Ram Bagh gate is allegedly encroached upon by shopkeepers, including a wine shop, a meat shop, a three-storeyed dairy, etc. Interestingly, much to the disappointment of heritage lovers, a public toilet also finds a place on the face of the historic gate. However, this is now being demolished.

Brij Bedi, president, Citizens Forums, and a heritage lover, said it would be a better tribute to the legendary king by preserving and saving the last of the 12 gates built by him.

The gate encloses about 5,000 sq yards of land in it, while the three-fourth of the gate has already become a rubble. Bedi said the government should rebuild the gate in the
same style and architecture devoid of all encroachments.

He viewed that a museum, theatre and a cafe area should be established to apprise the tourists of the rich culture, heritage and history of the legendary king and his kingdom. Bedi, who had formed the Save Ram Bagh Gate Foundation about four years back for the preservation of the gate, said if properly preserved it would become a tourist attraction of the city.

Meanwhile, MC commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda said the department of tourism and culture in collaboration with district administration has been entrusted with the work of restoration and preservation of all historic and heritage buildings, including the gates. He said the preservation of all heritage buildings were their prime duty and all encroachments would be removed for this purpose and shops would be shifted.

The project in charge said the Ram Bagh gate would house a tourists and visitors facilitating centre helping the pilgrims and others in guiding them to visit different historical sites in and around the Golden Temple. The centre would also help people find a suitable accommodation and plan their visit to the city and places of the interest.

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