Poor response to tenders creates hurdles in implementation of Master Plan

Conservation, adaptive reuse of Mubarak Mandi complex
Central agencies to be roped in for giving push to project
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 17: Poor response to the tenders being floated by the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society is creating hurdles in the implementation of the Master Plan for conservation and adaptive reuse of the historic complex. Keeping this problem in mind, the State has decided to rope in Central agencies having expertise in handling the highly sophisticated task for giving necessary push to the project.
The much-needed Master Plan for the crumbling heritage complex was approved by the Governor Satya Pal Malik in the 8th Governing Body meeting of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society held at Raj Bhavan on March 5, 2019.
The Master Plan is aimed at conservation and adaptive re-use of the Mubarak Mandi complex as per the proposed zoning which includes Central Courtyard, Knowledge Centre, Interpretation and Collection Galleries, Lifestyle, Experimental Spaces and Crafts Centre.
It was disclosed in the meeting that execution of these sub projects will be funded under Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructural Development Financial Corporation Ltd for an estimated amount of Rs 66 crore.
Following approval to the Master Plan, the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society floated tenders for conservation of Durbar Hall at an estimated cost of Rs 6.27 crore and Dogra Museum at an estimated cost of Rs 3.14 crore. However, there was not sufficient response as a result of which tenders had to be floated afresh, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Now, the fate of the fresh exercise will be decided on June 22, 2019 when the tenders will be opened, they said, adding “since conservation of historic complex is highly skilled job and manpower to handle the task is not readily available in the State there are apprehensions about fresh exercise yielding the desirable results”.
Keeping all the aspects in mind, the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society has decided to rope in the agencies across the country—either in Government or in private sector so as to start implementation of the Master Plan, sources disclosed. They, however, expressed inability to specify the time-frame for kick-starting the implementation of Master Plan.
“Engagement of other agencies in the conservation work is imperative keeping in view the slow pace of work by the Archaeological Survey of India, which has a number of times conveyed its difficulties in giving much needed impetus to the ongoing works on various grounds”, sources said while disclosing that even ASI doesn’t have sufficient skilled manpower in Jammu and Kashmir despite having been given large number of heritage sites for conservation in all the three regions of the State.
In response to a question, sources said, “funds are not an issue for the implementation of Master Plan as Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructural Development Financial Corporation Ltd is ready to make available Rs 66 crore as was decided in the 8th Governing Body meeting of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society but work can be started only when skilled manpower is available”.
The Master Plan officers a platform to develop a holistic vision for Mubarak Mandi as a heritage and cultural destination through strategic planning and identification of program-based initiatives centered around heritage without compromising authenticity and intensity of the palace complex.
It further aims to revitalize the soul of Mubarak Mandi through sustainable development of the site inclusive of its cultural and natural resources by safe-guarding the built heritage, enhancing its interpretation and visitation, capacity building for its management and maintenance and project the complex as city’s cultural identity.
The key objectives of the Master Plan include raising the complex as one of the top tourist destinations of the State and to acknowledge and acclaim the uniqueness and significance by collaborating with national and international organizations at different levels by involving them in various research and cultural alliances to have profound understanding.
“No doubt all the aspects relating to conservation and adaptive reuse of the complex have been taken care of in the Master Plan but unless implementation begins situation is not going to change and complex will continue to suffer damages due to vagaries of weather”, sources said.