Protect Dogra Heritage

Reports that the UT Government is mulling about converting a portion of historic Mubarak Mandi Complex into Heritage Hotel under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode are quite confusing and if implemented was surely going to be proved as a monumental goof. It is fairly known that Mubarak Mandi Palace Complex represents the unique and rich cultural heritage of Jammu and Kashmir and is one of the historical symbols of the Dogra culture and pride . In other words that means every step required to protect and preserve it is worth taking and nothing of the sort should be done which trivialises its glory and its own unique place in the hearts of the people who are emotionally attached to it. The matter of its preserving assumes importance on an even and consistent manner which denotes generating its maintenance cost , managing overhead expenses incurred on regular upkeep for which there should be either an annual fixed budget of funds or an income almost on recurring daily basis. Should for that purpose, even a portion of this complex be commercialised under the pretext of adaptive reuse , is an important question.
Agreed, a decision to convert a portion of this historic complex into a Heritage Hotel was taken by the Governing Body of the Complex several years back but the decision remained in utter dormancy due to host of reasons and that speaks for no further steps having been taken towards that end or proceeding ahead to come out with a cogent plan. The PPP model on Design develop-Finance -Build-Maintain and Operate basis agreeably would take care of all the aspects of its maintenance theoretically but looking into the host of associated reasons , even this decision, when translated into reality would not meet the pointed requirements . That precisely is on account of various factors right from expected occupancy rate to accessibility and allied reasons. Hypothetically , even if the proposed transformation or converting the historic complex into a Heritage Hotel goes through , it will not prove economically viable and definitely would not attract tourists but surely injure and erode the Dogra identity thus the entire exercise would prove futile.
The move has not been appreciated across the civil society on the plea that it violated the sanctity and the emotional attachment of the people towards this Palace Complex. It cuts little ice that not the entire or major part of the complex is proposed for converting into a Heritage Hotel but only a portion of the Complex comprising residential palaces situated in the eastern part of the heritage complex which is known as Zanana Mahal. We feel that simple thumb rule is that any protected monument , as the Mubarak Complex is , cannot be put to commercial use in the manner the UT Government has proposed. While the Government claims that converting the complex into a Heritage Hotel was the only way to generate sufficient revenue for its maintenance as the same was duly mentioned in the Master Plan but on the other hand, expert opinion on the subject term the move as totally against the approved Master Plan. It is firmly believed that the complex cannot simply be treated as real estate as that was violating the Jammu and Kashmir Ancient Monuments Preservation Act . Therefore, it was the duty of the Government to conserve all the buildings of the historic complex which would definitely attract the pilgrim tourists of Mata Shri Vaishno devi shrine to it and that could generate good revenue for the complex.
The need of the hour, therefore, was to make adequate awareness about the architecture, design, historical perspective , location and heritage value of Mubarak Mandi Complex so that the people across the country know about it and those visiting Jammu and Kashmir as tourists do visit the complex . Any move to commercialise it by turning a portion into a Hotel, therefore, deserves to be rescinded forthwith. The Lieutenant Governor is required to take interest in maintaining its status quo and not allow any alteration in its status.