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Need to Conserve Amritsar Heritage (Read 11827 times)
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Need to Conserve Amritsar Heritage
22. Sep 2006 at 12:08
 
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister,
New Delhi.
Subject :- Need to Conserve Amritsar Heritage on the lines of  
     Lahore Heritage Conservation under UNESCO.
Sir,
     Amritsar and Lahore (Pakistan) are both heritage cities and before the partition of Punjab in 1947, they were regarded as twin cities. Commuting between these cities, mostly on bicycles was very common.
     The Lahore Fort and the Shalimar Gardens there are some of the most important examples of Mughal architecture in the subcontinent and were very thoughtfully registered on the UNESCO world heritage list, long ago in 1981. Whereas the World Bank committed to give $ 10 million towards the conservation and restoration of the infrastructure of the walled city of Lahore, their Chief Minister has announced an additional $ 10 million from the state government to be spent on the two heritage sites above. The objective is to remove them from the list of endangered heritage sites as soon as possible. The World Bank project in Fez Medina (Morocco), when completed would provide the model for a final $30-$40 million for the maintenance of this architectural wonder of Lahore.
     In comparison, we see hardly any serious effort or even thought put into the precious and far more important heritage of Amritsar which is, so to say, the Vatican of the Sikhs and the pivot of socio-cultural history of Punjab. The walled city still has some ‘havelis (palatial houses), akharas (centres of learning), gurdwaras, churches, temples, mosques and parks built during the pre-British Sikh rule in Punjab and also some structures constructed during the Victorian era of the British though many have vanished before the forces of urbanization and renewal.  
     It is heartening to note that, at long last, the Archeological Survey of India has finally taken over the possession and control of the historic Ram Bagh, the one time summer capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which he had built as a replica of the Shallimar Garden of Lahore. However you will agree with me, sir, that most of the historical and heritage sites mentioned above have a heritage value and the situation demands that they too be identified and necessary amendments in the Municipal Corporation Act made to disallow their wanton demolition. Structures like the Gobindgarh Fort, Ram Bagh Gate, Qila Ahluwalia, Qila Ramgarhian, Qila Bhangian, Haveli Rani Jindaan (Sharif pura) and the wall around the city should  be put on the UNESCO list or at least on the priorities of the Archeological Survey of India.
     The idea is that Amritsar should be developed on the pattern of Lahore so as to preserve its historical twin-ness. It is getting more and more important after Indo-Pak peace process and opening of the Wagah Border.  But Amritsar heritage is in a shambles and the efforts to conserve it only piecemeal and unregulated. Local government and our elected representatives are neither sensitive to this issue nor competent or equipped to nurture a proper vision vis-a-vis heritage.  
You, Doctor Sahib, as a son of Amritsar, realize the significance of this wealth of Amritsar, nay, of Punjab It is a now-or-never moment.  
Kindly take cognizance of the matter and issue necessary directions..
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
 
(Prof. MOHAN SINGH)
Former President AVM
4091-Kot Baba Deep Singh,
Bazaar No. 4, Amritsar. Ph. 0183-2581514
 
Develop Amritsar Following the Heritage Care Plan of Lahore – AVM
Amritsar      September (                   ) Keeping in view the inextricably intertwined history and heritage of Amritsar and Lahore (Pak), the cultural and architectural heritage of the former should be conserved on the pattern of Lahore as taken up by the World Bank and the Punjab govt. there. This view was expressed by Prof. Mohan Singh, a former president of Amritsar Vikas Manch who in  letters to the Prime Minister  Dr. Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Capt.Amrinder Singh has reiterated the ‘twin’ character of these cities and the need for similar approach in the conservation of their heritage .
     The Lahore Fort and the Shalimar Gardens there are some of the most important examples of Mughal architecture in the subcontinent and were very thoughtfully registered on the UNESCO world heritage list, long ago in 1981. Whereas the World Bank committed to give $ 10 million towards the conservation and restoration of the infrastructure of the walled city of Lahore, their Chief Minister has announced an additional $ 10 million from the state government to be spent on the two heritage sites above. The objective is to remove them from the list of endangered heritage sites as soon as possible. The World Bank project in Fez Medina (Morocco), when completed would provide the model for a final $30-$40 million for the maintenance of this architectural wonder of Lahore.
     In comparison, Prof. Singh said that there is hardly any serious effort or even thought put into the precious and far more important heritage of Amritsar which is, so to say, the Vatican of the Sikhs and the pivot of socio-cultural history of Punjab. The walled city still has some ‘havelis (palatial houses), akharas (centres of learning), gurdwaras, churches, temples, mosques and parks built during the pre-British Sikh rule in Punjab and also some structures constructed during the Victorian era of the British though many have vanished before the forces of urbanization and renewal.
     The Manch leader has welcomed that at long last, the Archeological Survey of India has finally taken over the possession and control of the historic Ram Bagh, the one time summer capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which he had built as a replica of the Shallimar Garden of Lahore. But Prof. Singh has highlighted the importance of other historical and heritage sites mentioned above and demanded that they too be identified and necessary amendments in the Municipal Corporation Act made to disallow their wanton demolition. Structures like the Gobindgarh Fort, Ram Bagh Gate, Qila Ahluwalia, Qila Ramgarhian, Qila Bhangian, Haveli Rani Jindaan (Sharif pura) and the wall around the city should  be put on the UNESCO list or at least on the priorities of the Archeological Survey of India.
     The thrust of the Manch demand is that that Amritsar should be developed on the pattern of Lahore so as to preserve its historical twin-ness. It is getting more and more important after Indo-Pak peace process and opening of the Wagah Border because according to it the local govt. is neither sensitive to this issue and Prime Minister should take cognizance of the matter      
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