Unexpected ambivalence continues in the process of restoration of the historic Mubarak Mandi complex, seemingly on a continuous basis, as nothing seems to be moving in respect of the key decisions taken towards gearing up the pace of the work on it. The key decisions taken in this respect, nearly over one and a half years back, appear to have been given a miss. The slackness and indifference in the matter can be gauged by the fact that the Governing Body of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society has not met since September 2016 despite the fact that it is required to meet at least once in a year.
It may be recalled that the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti herself had expressed serious concern over slow pace of the restoration work while chairing Governing Body meeting on August 29, 2016. She had issued directions for roping in other agencies to supplement the work of different nature being carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Not only this, she had asked for fixing timelines for taking up work of various hues on it. The former Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed too had evinced keen interest in the works of the complex while chairing Governing Body meeting in June 2015 and had issued necessary directions for identifying agencies having relevant expertise in conservation of heritage sites so that their services could be requisitioned to restore the building on fast track basis.
This complex holds historical, cultural and emotive importance and therefore restoration to it its pristine glory is of paramount need. Where does the matter get botched up then, is a vital question and the period of nearly two years getting lost in a state of dormancy over it needs to be explained. Having given reasonable sufficient directions by both the sitting as well as the former Chief Minister should have resulted in things moving fast but paradoxically, the position is different. The dilly dallying approach again is taking the toll of time as also of the cost which could possibly get escalated in this project of its own significance. However, the only step which has been initiated in this regard is the engagement of a consultancy firm for identifying suitable agencies for gearing up of work on the historic complex and to prepare five years action plan for the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society. No time frame for completion of exercise has been specified.
On the other, the Archaeological Survey of India has, in many official meetings, amply cleared that it cannot execute the works involving a cost of more than Rs. 2 crore every year because of manpower constraints which implies that the likely date of the restoration of the complex, appearing to be hefty, is trapped between the devil and the deep sea. The other face of the coin is there being no headway made in respect of removing of unauthorized parking around the complex though Divisional Commissioner Jammu was supposed to play a crucial role in this regard. In fact, this place is otherwise “treated” as overnight parking place by many motorists and even during day time, the situation on this count is creating impediments in the execution of works by the Archaeological Survey of India .The Tourism Department has started beautification of five out of the six identified places in compliance with the instructions passed on by the Governing Body in its 7th meeting held in August 2016. However, its 8th scheduled meeting has not been convened during the last one and a half years. It is necessitated to assess and review the progress on decisions taken in the preceding meetings and the status of the restoration work.
While the Executive Committee has met on umpteen times but the role of the Governing Body being exclusive cannot be undermined. The slackness is fairly parked at the doorsteps of the Tourism Ministry for not initiating requisite steps to facilitate timely meetings of the Governing Body. Division Bench of State High Court has also expressed concern over dilly dallying approach in restoration work of this historic complex. It is high time, things move with the required speed, now.