8 years gone by, 19.22 crores spent, original heritage site still a far distant reality

gy correspondent Jammu mar 9
[ March 09, 2017 ] Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society was established on 28th December 2006. Initially Society’s work was looked after by the Directorate of Tourism Jammu. As the society was established General Administrative Department deputed six officials from different PSUs and Govt department, on deputation to run the affairs of the society 2 Nos. deputed from Finance Department i.e Accounts officer and Accountant. Govt sanctioned 21 different cadre posts releasing salaries in lacs. Originally the project cost was Rs 235.92 crore at the initial stage in 2008 and was granted in favour of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) after it submitted DPRs for conservation of different buildings of Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex for the tentative cost of Rs 235.92 crores. However no tender was floated for the renovation and surprisingly the work was allotted to INTACH without following requisite codal formalities for timely completion of the project with quality and timely completion of project in time. However when and why the project work was handed over to Archaeological Survey of India from INTACH and it is also not in public domain why the contractors were shifted and what quantum of work has been done by INTACH and how much has already been spent and what portion of the project to be completed by Archaeological Survey of India and by now what will be the completion cost of this much awaited project in Jammu. So far since the start of project in 2008, ASI was entrusted the job for restoration of two buildings named Erstwhile Army Head Quarter and Foreign Office ( Old High Court Building) . The said buildings were completed in the year 2011 against the cost of Rs 3.96 crores. Presently ASI is working to restore the Royal Courts Phase-1. For the said work an amount of Rs 3.96 crores has been released in favour of ASI. Restoration work on said component has been completed up to roof level and 75% work is completed and balance work likely to be completed by August 2017. Recently, ASI has started the preliminary work on Royal Courts Phase-11. The estimated cost of the work is Rs 6.88 crores and estimates has been received from ASI. ASI has also sanctioned for starting the work on Dabar Hall, Central Courtyard and Raja Ram Singh Palace. The estimates are being formed by ASI for the above building. Number of private security guards and laborers cum sanitation staff is engaged through outsourcing. Since the time Society was established and started functioning an amount of Rs 66.81 lacs has been paid to different agencies for the providing private security guards and laborers cum sanitation staff through outsourcing model having absolutely no fun at all. Besides Society floated tenders vide NIT No.01of 2014/15 dated 16-01-2014 for the work namely improvement of platform by way of cutting and finishing top with red stones at central courtyard Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex at the approximate cost of Rs 34.70 lacs at its own level and that too got it published in low circulated newspapers. Likewise it also floated another tender vide NIT No.02 of 2014/15 dated 16-01-2014 for the work providing of the hill face treatment to MM Hill by providing 2’’x2’’ MS Wire Knit Mesh of 3.15 mm thick and anchoring same with steel nails and by short create of 4’’ any thickness in 1:1:2 mix with all adhesive included all lead and lift at Rs 45.57 besides floating some other tenders. This proves beyond any doubt that the Society which was established for timely and qualitative renovation of heritage complex had completely failed to live up to the expectations of people. Due to improper handling of the project it has already taken much more time even to the extent of more than eight years but the renovation work to onlookers seems that there is no work visible on ground even after spending worth Rs 19.22 crores so far by Archaeological Survey of India and the funds spent by Society in addition to this by floating tenders for work at its own level. Society claims that there is no Govt order/Sanctioning place for parking of private vehicles in the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex and so no revenue generated by Society but the reality is that there exist two parking places inside the Complex and society charging from the parking on the monthly basis. There is strong resentment among Jammuites over slow pace of restoration work on the prestigious Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex and as such there is an urgent need for roping in other agencies to supplement the ongoing works being carried out by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) so that the restoration work is expedited and grandeur of the heritage site is restored. Keeping in view the curiosity of the people of region, Govt should stress the need to fix timeline for taking up various components of work of the State Protected Monument and should identify agencies other than ASI having relevant expertise in conservation of heritage sites, so that they are entrusted with the work to restore the buildings on fast-track. With regard to its importance to be developed as tourist spot in the heart of city, Department of Tourism should simultaneously take up landscaping and beautification works in the complex so that it gets a facelift till the restoration process is underway and the complex may be opened for public and tourists. As per the Executive Director, Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society, Vishesh Mahajan that conservation work was initially started by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in June, 2008 on the DPR of Rs. 235.92 crore formulated by the INTACH. The work on the two buildings, namely erstwhile Army Headquarters and Foreign Office was completed by the ASI in the year 2011 at a cost of Rs.4.37 crore and handed over to the society. These renovated buildings are being used for holding exhibitions and tourists, and local people are regularly visiting the site to see it. Presently the works involving an estimated cost of Rs. 8.38 crore are in progress, for which the funding has been made under 13th Finance Commission.