Slackness prevails in restoration of historic Mubarak Mandi complex
JAMMU, Mar 8: In a testimony of continuous slack approach towards restoration of historic Mubarak Mandi complex, no discernible progress has been made by the concerned authorities on the key decisions taken over one and half years back for gearing up the pace of work. Moreover, no meeting of the Governing Body of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society has been convened since September 2016 despite the fact that it is required to meet once in a year.
The last meeting of the Governing Body of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society was convened on August 29, 2016 when the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had expressed serious concern over slow pace of restoration work on the prestigious complex. She had issued directions for roping in other agencies to supplement the works being carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Stressing the need to fix timelines for taking up various components of work on the State Protected Monument, the Chief Minister had asked for identifying 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 basis.
Moreover, she had explicitly told the Divisional Commissioner Jammu to take personal interest in removing unauthorized parking around the complex, which is vital to restore the pristine glory of the historic complex.
However, despite lapse of over one and half year no discernible progress has been made by the concerned authorities on these key decisions taken by the Governing Body, official sources told EXCELSIOR while disclosing that no agency has so far been identified to supplement the works being executed by the ASI.
“The only step which has been initiated in this regard so far is 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”, sources said while expressing inability to specify any time-frame for completion of exercise by the consultant.
It is pertinent to mention here that former Chief Minister late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed while chairing Governing Body meeting of Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society in June 2015 had also issued directions for identifying agencies having relevant expertise in conservation of heritage sites and utilizing their services to restore the historic complex on fast track basis.
“The dilly-dallying approach on these directions of former as well as sitting Chief Minister is notwithstanding the fact that Archaeological Survey of India has formally admitted in a number of official meetings that it cannot execute more than Rs 2 crore worth works every year because of manpower constraints”, sources informed.
They further said that in the absence of any road-map and alternate agency for gearing up work no time-lines could be fixed so far for various components of works on State Protected Monument. “In view of the prevailing situation when the complex will be fully restored remains a million dollar question”, sources added.
Moreover, no progress has been made on removal of unauthorized parking around the complex although Divisional Commissioner Jammu was supposed to play crucial role in this regard as per the directions of the Chief Minister, sources further informed, adding “parked vehicles are continuously creating impediments in the execution of works by the Archaeological Survey of India”.
Only beautification of five out of six identified places has been started by the Tourism Department as per the instructions passed by the Governing Body in its 7th meeting held in August 2016, sources claimed.
What to talk of implementing its decisions, even the 8th meeting of the Governing Body of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society has not been convened during the past over one and half year despite the fact that it is supposed to meet once in every year to assess progress on decisions taken in the preceding meetings and status of the restoration work, sources said.
“No doubt the Executive Committee has met a number of times since then but Governing Body has its own role and the same cannot be undermined”, they said while accusing Tourism Ministry of not initiating requisite steps to facilitate timely meetings of the Governing Body.
A concerned official, when contacted, admitted indiscernible progress on key decisions and said, “hopefully the Governing Body will meet shortly”.
“All this clearly indicates that concern for historic Mubarak Mandi Complex has remained confined to the official statements and on ground the pace of work remains terribly slow”, sources remarked.
It is worthwhile to mention here that Division Bench of State High Court headed by Chief Justice has also expressed concern over dilly-dallying approach in restoration work on historic complex.