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Golden Temple restoration controversy (Read 35112 times)
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Golden Temple restoration controversy
05. Nov 2004 at 19:35
Golden Temple restoration controversy investigated by Radio 4
15th October, 2004
On the 20th anniversary of the storming of the Golden Temple by Indian government forces, a dramatic controversy over the restoration of the holy shrine still remains. In a documentary on Radio 4 next week, the BBC's Navdip Dhariwal explores the strange story of conflict between a Birmingham based group and professional conservationists in India.
When Indira Gandhi sent the military into the Golden Temple in 1984, many parts in and around the shrine were damaged. An extensive restoration drive, which is now nearly completed, had been led by volunteers from the biggest Gurudwara (Sikh temple) 8,000 miles away - here in Birmingham, UK.  
However, their well meaning actions have run into a barrage of criticism from professional conservationists in India. With the Golden Temple now being considered for World Heritage status, the issue has become much more topical.
For the programme, Navdip Dhariwal, the BBC's new South Asia correspondent, travelled to the holy city of Amritsar Punjab where she met a leading conservation architect, Gurmeet Rai. Rai is highly critical of the work that has been carried out and is now overseeing a complete architectural survey of the Golden Temple site as part of the bid to get World Heritage status.
"I came hear and saw the sort of work they were doing I tried to get it stopped but no-one was listening. It's crass and if you are going to decorate the house of our Lord with plastic stickers then I think it is appalling."
"The Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) is the history of the Sikh faith for over 400 years and to replace this with modern material which is historically unsympathetic is criminal," she added.
Rai's criticism is backed by the Sikh historian Patwant Singh, who told the BBC that the Birmingham group has been over-zealous in the determination to serve the faith.
"Generosity is fine. Voluntary service or kar seva is brilliant. But it doesn't mean ignoring principles of conservation, then it becomes an ego trip: I'll do it but on my terms. When I saw the Golden Temple finally emerge from the scaffolding and I was shocked."
The Birmingham based group in charge of the restoration however hits back at criticism. Mohinder Singh, the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha, said: "History will record that I was responsible for doing the gold gilding. My conscience is clear. This is the 400th anniversary of our holy book, a very important anniversary. But, for people who made objections for nothing, the Golden Temple remains un-cleaned inside. This is the damage that was done."
Gold Service: Radio 4 at 11am, on Monday 25th October.
Produced by Ashok Ahir & Jeremy Davies. Presented by Navdip Dhariwal.
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Re: Golden Temple restoration controversy
Reply #1 - 05. Nov 2004 at 23:19
Headline: Brummies bodge Sikhs’ holy shrine
Journalist: Peter Popham
Date: 25 September 1999
Source: The Independent
IN THE middle of an artificial lake gleams a golden pavilion. It is the holy of holies of the Sikh religion, and an architectural masterpiece to rival the Taj Mahal. But unlike the latter, this is a shrine throbbing with life.
Day and night, plangent Sikh hymns roll across the water. Every day thousands of Sikh pilgrims from all over the world stream through, bathing in the holy waters and prostrating themselves before the holy book. Outsiders are welcomed: two years ago the Queen and Prince Philip were given a tour of the complex, and a model of it to take home as a souvenir.
But despite all the love and attention, the Golden Temple in the northern Indian city of Amritsar is under dire threat - ironically, from pious Sikhs who devote all their spare time and money to the shrine.
In the name of renovation and improvement, groups of karsevaks, or volunteers, throw themselves into doing their bit for the temple. Prominent among them is a group of British Sikhs from Birmingham, the Guru Nanak Nishkam Jatha. But nobody in the temple exercises informed control over the renovation work that gets done, with the result that this 200-year-old masterpiece is being steadily defaced, distorted and vulgarised.
In an octagonal nine-storey tower erected 200 years ago in memory of a nine-year-old martyr, 19th century frescoes depicting the life of Guru Nanak, the religion's founder, have been scraped off the walls and replaced by avocado green bathroom tiles.
The holiest spot in the complex is the Harimandir Sahib, the Abode of God, in the centre of the lake, reached by a 200-yard causeway. This is where the holy men sit continuously singing hymns, while devotees troop in and out. The upper part of the Harimandir gleams golden: the copper plates it is made of are thickly covered in gold leaf. The entire roof has recently been renovated by the Sikhs from Birmingham, a work that took four years to complete.
But experts in Sikh architecture charge that, in their zeal, the craftsmen hired by the Birmingham devotees have done irreparable damage to the roof, plastering cement over paintings which lay underneath the original copper sheets, thereby destroying them.
The Akal Takht is the other holy spot in the complex, the building to which the holy book, the Granth Sahib, is ritually carried every day.
The original structure, a delicate brick pavilion, was blown apart by Indian army tanks in 1984, when Indira Gandhi demanded that secessionist Sikh terrorists who had seized it should be killed. Afterwards the pavilion was razed to the ground and rebuilt - but the replacement is a hulking ferro-concrete building with none of the grace of the original.
The stream of believers and the singing of hymns ensure a serene mood inside. But the canopy suspended over the holy book, garish pink and fringed like a bedcover, alerts one to the fact that Sikh aesthetics are not what they once were.
Upstairs on scaffolding, Harbhajan Singh and his sons, local artisans, are painting the ceiling. Their work is precise and highly detailed, but the colours they use - cream and orange and blue and yellow and pink - would look more at home on a carousel in a fairground. "Did you have this colour scheme approved by the temple authorities?" I asked  
him. "No, no, I chose it myself," he replied. "I don't have to get permission from anyone. I've been painting here since 1955. Nobody tells me what to do."
For many years, educated Sikhs have kept quiet about the stealthy, well-intentioned desecration that is overtaking the Golden Temple and other of Sikhism's historical treasures. But now they are making their indignation known.
"These people are showing utter lack of sensitivity towards our heritage," says Patwant Singh, a noted authority on Sikh art and architecture. "Despite the resoluteness with which Sikhs have risen to every challenge, our generation has not been able to face the challenge of conserving its heritage."
Gurmeet Rai, an architectural historian who has made a systematic study of the historic buildings of Punjab for Unesco, said: "They are killing the essence of what the religion is. People are concerned - believers are concerned about it - but nobody is organised to make  
their voices heard."
The crux of the problem is the way the Golden Temple and all other historical gurudwaras - or temples - are run. The controlling body is an organisation called the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). But it is said to be riven by factional politics, and has no conservation experts to guide its policy.
Patwant Singh said: "The SGPC has more money than they know what to do with. They must stop all physical intervention by outside bodies like the Birmingham group. They have to establish that no historical gurudwaras will be touched unless the work is vetted by them."
Most of the Birmingham Sikhs have left Punjab now. One who remains, an elder named Mehnga Singh with a kindly face and a magnificent long white beard, complains of false accusations. "It was quite wrong to blame us for putting bathroom tiles in the Babar Atal," he said. "That was nothing to do with us. We only did the gold leaf work in the Haramandir. And we have nothing whatever to do with the SGPC."
Both SGPC spokesmen were out of town and unavailable for comment.
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Letter sent in 1999 highlighting the problems
Reply #2 - 07. Nov 2004 at 02:44
Wahe Guruji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh,
At the risk of appearing intruding into the dialogue currently between
the two of you I am taking the liberty of voicing some of my / our
concerns (Patwant Singhji and myself) about the subject of Sikh Heritage
in India.
I would like to begin with some details on the Golden temple complex
which you might be familiar with but I feel the need to table them
briefly. As you must be familiar it is possible to see remains/
structures (although very few) of the layers of history in the Golden
temple complex over the last 400 years. These include natural features
such as the trees associated with Baba Buddhaji, Guru Arjan Devji,
remains of structures such as a small part of the original Akal Takht
building from the times of Guru Hargobindji, the Harimandir Sahib
building and the Darshini Deori (after the repairs undertaken in post
1763 attack of Abdali), the only surviving Bunga (called the Ramgarhia
Bunga) and Baba Atal (both 18th century building), exquisite inlay
floors, marble railings , earlier the gold sheets placed by Maharaja
Ranjit Singh etc. As you must be familiar that there were havelis,
Bungas etc around the complex prior to the Governments? intervention of
providing the 100 feet clear corridor after the 1984.
The complex is currently facing numerous threats, which to my mind needs
to be looked at and inputs made in all possible way by the community as
a whole. I definitely feel that you all (Sikhs outside India) can play a
very vital role by playing as a pressure group.
The 'threats' include the kind of interventions that are being made to
individual buildings, the complex as a whole as well as to the environs
of the complex.
To the individual buildings:
You would appreciate that with due respect to the best of intentions of
the ?sewa? being undertaken on the few surviving original historic
buildings the kind of interventions being done are detrimental to the
life span of the buildings made of lime and brick. For example the
harimandir sahib building sits in the pool of water. There in no damp
proof course in the building because of which there is a rising damp
situation (rising damp is there in all building in this part of the
world). This dampness needs to be allowed to dry otherwise acute
dampness leads to deterioration of the building material. Lime as a
building material allows the building to breathe as opposite to cement
which doesnot allows this to happen. The building as it is has marble
cladding till over 7 feet which means all dampness was being released
above that level. This was the reason why when the gold sheets were
being replaced that the plaster below was found in a state of
deterioration. This is how a sacrificial layer works. The building
structural elements has to perform with the strongest towards the core
and softest towards the periphery. With the application of cement
slurry/ plaster in place of lime plaster before the application of the
new gold sheets unfortunately over a decade would show shocking results.
You will be shocked to see that the paintings on the inner side within
the sanctum sanctorium (toward the left side as one enters the sanctum
sanctorium can be seen) have already begun to flake.  
I have photographs of the intervention being done on the building (cement  
plaster etc under the new gold sheets of 1996). To further replace these  
paintings in truly not the solution. If you need opinions on the matter  
close home kindly speak to SPAB (Society for Protection of Ancient  
Buildings in
London, one of the most prestigious organisations with Queen Mother as
the Patron, founded by William Morris, further you could consult the
English Heritage, Historic Scotland or individuals like Sir Bernard
Fieldon, Nicola Ashhurst, Pat Gibbons of The Scottish lime Centre etc.)
Please donot misunderstand my position on this matter it is out of our
concern of the very few, remaining historic buildings. I recommend that
the organization currently working on Sri Hazur sahib consult some of
these specialist orgainsation (I been told Mr Rajiv Khanna is involved
in the project but with due respect to his work do consult SPAB in
The principle for conservation is that the interventions must be
reversible and materials used should be compatible with the old, and ask
any specialist (refer the Smeaton Project document in the BRE, Building
Rsearch Establishment inWatford (they conducted this study on the use of
cement with lime for the English Heritage in 1993-95) cement and lime
are not compatible. Therefore the application of the cement plaster on
the Harimandir sahib under the gold sheets is a disaster. The roof top
has this newly applied Poly Urethane application on the exquisite
original brick tiled terracing which has deteriorated in patches which
would now allow water to seep under the PU application and will not
allow it to fully dry. Please it is of atmost importance for people
working with historic buildings is that donot try to fight elements of
nature allow the buildings to breathe. Due to this high water content of
the walls the inlayed marble sheets on the building too are beginning to
discolor (see especially towards the Har ki Pauri). This again does not
call for replacement for heaven sake!! But serious investigation on the
cause is needed.
(In one of the emails it has been stated that the original gold sheets
are there, please request the organization who undertook the project of
replacing the sheets that they should kindly let the Sikh Sangat
worldwide know where they are and kindly have them exhibited in the
Museum being set up in Anandpur Sahib, I request you to do so as I
assume that the organization is better placed than us to have this
justice done to the effort of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the craftsman of
that time)
Part of the Ramgarhia Bunga has recently lost its roof (brick vaulted
roofs to be replaced by reinforced cement concrete).
On the Complex:
There are no controls or planning guidelines for the complex as a result
of which the walls of the towers of the bunga have a clad of cement
plaster maybe concrete and pink and white colours, topped by chatris,
the Gurudwara Baba Atal has green tiles in place of wall paintings, wall
paintings on the upper floor of the same have white enamel paint. Worse
still the exquisite panel of inlayed floor in front of the Akal Takht
was removed (photo of original can be seen in my collection) this list
can go on.
On the environs of the complex:
The buildings around the complex are going taller and their balconies
with clothes lines, people lounging etc. can be seen from the parikarma
(I can send photos of the same). I donot think the day is far when we
will see neon signs saying ?Hotel Golden Temple View? above these
buildings. The Act for protection of Ancient Buildings in India has a
provision for regulated development zone around protected historic
buildings. Surely the Darbar Sahib complex although ?not protected?
needs similar treatment. The Town and Country Planning Act of Punjab
Government too has a provision for detail Town Development Scheme for
special areas such as these.
What we really need is again a pressure group on the Punjab Government
and the SGPC to sensitize them to set up a specialist group for the
matter. Patwant Singhji and myself have been voicing our concern but I
think this matter requires more concerned people to join the group.
This might look difficult but I do believe if in the face of very
difficult times the ?Dal Khalsa? could be formed this is peanuts is
Lastly a thought on the ?Sewa? tradition. In the course of our
documentation project on historic buildings and sites in Punjab in the
last five years what has emerged is a that construction of buildings was
not an end in itself for the Gurus but these buildings had a very
special purpose. What is most striking is that the structures are very
modest and have a unique sense of aesthetics and design. Unfortunately
we are loosing (infact lost most of them in the course of this
reconstruction drive of the Sikhs!). For example we are currently
restoring the Mosque built by Guru Hargobindji in Sri Hargobindpur (the
mosque is listed in Gur Bilas Chevi Padshai by Bhai Bhagat Singh, an
18th century document as well as in the Suraj Prakash Granth and is
being looked after by the Nihang Singhs of Tarna Dal) quite opposite to
the interpretation of a contemporary artist on the scale of the mosque
where the structure looks like the Jama Masjid of Delhi the original
structure is a modest building of approximately 13 metres by 6 metres
and about 6 metres high.  
The scale, nature, kind of building to my mind needs to be preserved as it  
states very clearly about the times, nature of building and design, and  
importantly they are the buildings themselves in brick and mortar (what we  
describe in conservation ?that the physical integrity of the building is  
intact? from the times of the Guru or other significant personalities of  
the Sikh history and traditions) nothing can be more distorting than a  
modern building with a guilded dome in its place!! (Please donot understa
nd this as undermining the significance of a Gurudwara) .
Guru Arjan Devji through community involvement, ?Sewa? initiated the
community to build numerous wells, water tanks etc. (I have had the good
chance of finding some myself and have photos of the same and luckily
some are without marble even today as they happen to of the main
highways) which are examples of community ?self help? where in the
community made the bricks and constructed the same. Numerous structures
of this nature survive even today. Written reference and remains of the
buildings especially demonstrate that the construction activities
undertaken by Gurus were for community welfare. To my mind this is one
of the many strengths of our faith. It is very unfortunate to see that
such rampant construction of Gurudwaras with gold and marble are being
done in the world and moreso in Punjab where as the community, the Sikhs
in Punjab villages especially the Youth and middle aged men can be seen
as serious alcoholics and even more horrific is that there is a very
high number of addicts onto complex drugs like morphine, proxyvon (the
list can go on). There is such frustration in the villages because of
inadequate oppurtunites and the number of school dropouts continue to
rise (this I am stating due to my last one years work with a team of
seven professionals in a village in Gurdaspur district). Both education
and health care is so bad and neglected (this has been personally
experienced by me and my team in many villages) It would be very timely
if the community and it leaders intervene with Sewa in these areas .
I think I should stop now atleast for the time being. I will be happy to
answer any query that you may have about the matter.
Gurmeet S. Rai
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Re: Golden Temple restoration controversy
Reply #3 - 08. Nov 2004 at 02:20
sat siri akal!
let me take privialge to introduce my self. My self Bikramjit Singh Lecturer Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar.
I got contact of this disscusion group in the web site of www.amritsar.com
The issue mentioned is not true. I have seen the work of gurmeeti rai and of the team from UK. I was curious that what is important for the community.
I do not know why many people are concerned about the holy shrine. So first of all let be clear that let us remain the shrine as it is existing.
Regarding the restoration work there is no controversies only the appraoches made by both parties.
I think the corelation of restoration with operation blue star is wrong basis. Why there is need to start the restoration... ??
Where is the extent of damage caused to it??
The issue seems to be old. Ms gurmeet rai has submitted the report to the UNESCo and whole drama was enacted in the presence of SGPC.
It is ny humble request to strike at the right corner.
bikramjit singh
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Re: Golden Temple restoration controversy
Reply #4 - 08. Nov 2004 at 02:45
Quote from bikramjit Singh   on 08. Nov 2004 at 02:20:
sat siri akal!
let me take privialge to introduce my self. My self Bikramjit Singh Lecturer Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar.
I got contact of this disscusion group in the web site of www.amritsar.com
The issue mentioned is not true. I have seen the work of gurmeeti rai and of the team from UK. I was curious that what is important for the community.
Regarding the restoration work there is no controversies only the appraoches made by both parties.
I think the corelation of restoration with operation blue star is wrong basis. Why there is need to start the restoration... ??
Where is the extent of damage caused to it??
The issue seems to be old. It is ny humble request to strike at the right corner. I agree to Ms Rai's efforts and feel more comprehensive approach shpuld be made.
bikramjit singh

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Re: Golden Temple restoration controversy
Reply #5 - 26. Nov 2004 at 21:29
heritage festival
A Heritage Festival that doesn’t help save heritage  
Experts say lip service not enough; concerted efforts required
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service
Heritage building under demolition. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma
Archeologists have established that Amritsar district was a part of the vast area covered under the Indus Valley Civilisation during the early period of history. The evidence of this ancient civilisation, as discovered so far, has pointed out that the civilisation developed here even prior to the Aryan civilisation.  
The gazetteer of the district records that during the Vedic period, the area now belonging to Amritsar district, was believed to have been the abode of many saints and sages. Though Amritsar also came under Greek influences for a brief period, traces of the footprints of Turk, Mughal, Lodhis, Mauryas, Khiljis and the Slave dynasties can be found in ancient and medieval history.

Most buildings in Old Amritsar are worth preserving for posterity.
— Photos by Rajiv Sharma
Understandably, it is quite difficult to re-discover the ancient history due to the paucity of primary sources, which were probably difficult to preserve by the people who continuously faced foreign invasions from 712 A.D. However, the new generation will have to own up the blame for demolishing heritage sites spread over four centuries. The authorities concerned have failed to preserve the one-and-a-half-century-old Sikh art belonging to the time of the legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh, what to talk of the heritage of Amritsar district since the beginning of the 16th century when Bhai Lehna (who later became the second Guru of the Sikhs), a resident of Khadoor Sahib (Amritsar), became a devoted follower of Guru Nanak Dev.  
Earlier it was British, who not only renamed the historical buildings, but also demolished many sites on the pretext of modernity and development. Now, the local administration is involved.

It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who took keen interest in the development and beautification of Amritsar during his rule. He followed the Mughal pattern in laying out beautiful gardens and constructing beautiful buildings, including forts, most of them now on the brink of ruin. He got Sri Harimandir Sahib gold plated. This was how it received the name Golden Temple. It was at this time that the Sikh school of art got the much-needed patronage.  

However, the successive state governments, including the Badal government that had promised to give governance on the pattern of “Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule” and the SGPC failed to preserve the invaluable art of Maharaja’s time. Amritsar looked like a fortified city in the days of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The fortification consisted of an immense rampart of earth and a wide ditch, apart from twelve gates, to save the town from foreign invasion. While most of the gates have been demolished, there is no trace of the ditch. Unmindful of their heritage value, most of the gates were pulled down in the past. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, many old buildings were replaced by “modern monuments” constructed by the British.  
The Amritsar chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture (INTACH) has documented about 300 buildings in the walled city, most of which are facing slow-death due to indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned. Dr Sukhdev Singh, state convener of INTACH, expressed his apprehensions that many of these buildings would disappear if the state government failed to amend the law to preserve heritage sites.  
The inventory of historical buildings, prepared by INTACH, is a pointer towards the indifferent attitude of all concerned. The 250-year-old SGPC-managed Gurdwara Lohgarh fort, constructed by the sixth Sikh master, Guru Hargobind, to secure the place from foreign attackers, was re-built with concrete structure due to indiscriminate repair done in 1997 through “Kar Sewa”. Its original design, however, was retained. The repair, carried out in 1995 with modern material, has also given a new look to the 350-year-old Gurdwara Guru Ka Mahal — the birthplace of Guru Arjun Dev. Nobody bothered to preserve the beautiful frescos of an ancient Shivala near Ghee Mandi.  
Another temple of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s period — Shivala Noormahalian Da, having domes with floral pattern, is in private hands. Some of the mosques within the walled are not in good condition due to their poor maintenance. Dr Sukhdev Singh said there was a dire need to preserve buildings like Chitta Akhara, where frescos are still in better condition.
Against this backdrop, the Heritage Festivals are a welcome step. However, the experience of the previous festival showed that neither the state government nor the district administration bothered to take any measures for conservation of the heritage sites. The Heritage Walk, organised last year, should have been an eye-opener for all those interested in preserving heritage.
Mr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, former president of the Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), alleges that the Deputy Commissioner had publicly promised during the previous Heritage Festival that no building more than 100 years old in the city would be “touched” but he recommended the demolition of 150-year-old Saragarhi Government Senior Secondary School in his capacity as Project Director, Golden Temple Beautification Project. In place of this government school, a multi-crore parking complex was to be constructed.  
Ms Neeta Mohindra, a renowned artiste, says that it is a boon to have heritage festivals. However, during the previous festival, there was no mention of great novelists Nanak Singh, Gurbax Singh Preetladi and Thakur Singh, who hailed from the city. Holding such festivals would serve their purpose if local artistes are given chance to perform, she adds.
Earlier, due to lack of adequate provisions for preserving heritage buildings, many old buildings, including Temperance Hall, wher Shaheed Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters used to hold meetings, had already been replaced by Pink Plaza.  
The tehsil building, constructed in 1856, was pulled down. The portion of District Courts, constructed in 1876, has been demolished, while the rest of the building is in a dilapidated condition. The Victoria Jubilee Hospital ( now renamed as Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital) is on the “hit list” of PUDA, which has planned to construct a shopping plaza .The proposal of PUDA is in gross violation of the act, as this hospital is less than 100 mt from the protected Ram Bagh. The old Sant Ram Hospital, which was built in 1904, has already been demolished.  
Now it is the turn of Town Hall school, a 156-year-old school. “Thandi Khuhi”, which finds mention in Punjabi literature, has been covered and “sales” are being organised there.
Historical gates like Ahluwalia Gate, Lohgarh Gate, Gilwali Gate have also been demolished . A haveli, belonging to the days of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was demolished recently, reportedly for constructing a shopping complex. This haveli is opposite Hindu College here. This is the second haveli to be demolished in the past few months. Earlier, one “Jainian di Haveli” situated at the “Chatkian wala Bazaar” in the walled city was demolished.  
The old heritage haveli having frescos depicting Maharaja Ranjit Singh along with his courtiers holding a durbar, unique floral designs and patterns, different floor patterns, tiles and beautifully-carved wooden doors and windows — has also been lost. The walls of the haveli had a beautiful wall painting, which was white washed indiscriminately. The haveli also had unique elegant Japanese tiles. The “Mohrakashi technique” of frescos, stained glasses, carved wooden windows, floor patterns — all show that this building was a part of the heritage belonging to the British era.  
In his report, “Re-inventing Amritsar heritage —Agenda for action”, Mr J.K. Gupta, a heritage expert, said that haphazard and unplanned development of the city over a period of time posed a serious threat to heritage. He added that Amritsar, growing from a small village to the status of the most vibrant city and metropolitan centre, had inherited enormous wealth of heritage.  
The heritage pyramid of the city had been acknowledged with reverence not only within the state, but also all over the world. However, rapidly changing city profile, misuse of built space, uncontrolled traffic and unauthorised building activities had damaged the very sanctity of the heritage areas.
Mr Gumtala alleges that the district administration and the MC should be held responsible for the violation of the acts enacted for the conservation of the historical buildings. To substantiate his point, he quotes a letter of the Director, Cultural and Historical and Museum Department, written to Deputy Commissioner on July 8, 1999. The letter reads “You are well aware that whole of Ram Bagh has been declared as the protected monument, as per Government of Punjab’s notification number 1/14/97- TS /2051, dated October 10, 1997. Now, this garden is totally developed as per rules of historical monuments by the department…”  
The letter also stated that was decided that no activity in this garden, including holding of marriage parties, political activities, would be conducted and no allotment would be made to any organisation. Besides, it was also decided that the clubs functioning in the Bagh would be closed and shifted to some other place. However, holding of marriage parties, political rallies and other functions there continued unabated. Interestingly, the venue of the Heritage Festival would also be the Bagh.  
The Ram Bagh has a cluster of traditional buildings and canopies of traditional style. But due to the fast pace of modernisation being allowed, the Bagh is losing its original identity. Now, “Panorama”, in the name of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is fast coming up after de-notifying the area. This is in gross violation of the law. Surprisingly, this is being done even though a case is pending in the court.  
The Supreme Court, in Rajiv Mankotia v/s Secretary to President of India, on March 27,1997, ruled, “ We direct Government of India to maintain all national monuments under the respective act and to ensure that all of them are properly maintained so that the cultural and historical heritage of India and its beauty and grandeur of the monuments, sculptures secured through breathless and passionate labour workmanship, craftsmanship and the skills of the Indian architects, artistes and masons is continued to be preserved. They are pride of Indians and places of public visit.” A question arises whether there is anybody to implement the ruling of the apex court in Amritsar city.  
The significance attached to heritage sites of Amritsar could be gauged from the notification issued by Secretary, Local Government and Archeology, on November 17,1925. The notification reads, “Governor-in-Council is pleased to declare the ancient monuments specified here in below to be protected monuments to be maintained out of provisional revenue. Out of eight, two monuments are in Amritsar, including Gobindgarrh Fort and Ram Bagh Gate, while five other monuments are in Hisar and Gurgaon.”  
Today, the Ram Bagh Gate has disappeared, while the Gobindgarh Fort is in dilapidated condition. Since the fort is in the possession of the Indian Army, even residents of the city cannot enter the building.  
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