Despite lapse of eight long years, the ambitious project of renovating Heritage Mubarak Mandi Complex is still ‘hanging in balance’, an apparent victim of official ‘apathy’.
While as the cost of the project keep on escalating, the concerned authorities are mum over the deadline of the project, citing it ‘delicate’ project.
Senior officer associated with the project revealed that the project which was started in 2008, is still lingering on, which speaks volumes about official apathy.
“The project is receiving regular funds from Government of India from time to time, but the officers associated with the project are not willing to expedite the work, due to which the cost has almost escalated to double,” said senior officer wishing anonymity.
He said that the executing agency has till date received Rs 71.29 crore out of the estimated project cost of Rs 250 crore.
“The cost assessment for restoration of 25 projects was Rs 250 crore, out of which Rs 71.29 crore has been released by the union government and rest is being released in phased manner,” he said, “The funds are provided after producing utilization certificates in phased manner.”
He said, “Now the cost has escalated to almost double from Rs 250 crore to Rs 500 crore.”
Meanwhile, talking to Newspoint, Executive Director, Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society-Rohit Khajuria apparently admitted that there is escalation of cost.
“I am not sure but keeping the time lapse, there would be some escalation in the cost of the project,” he said and added he is not sure about cost escalation as he does not have the official document in this regard.
The Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the heritage complex were prepared by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Sources said under Mega Tourism Segment, the Heritage Society demanded Rs 24. 92 crore for the restoration from Government of India (GoI) and it sanctioned Rs 16.80 crore only. Out of which Rs 3.38 crore were released.
Rohit Khajuria, Executive Director, Mubarak Mandi Heritae Society said, “The work related to Army Head Quarter /Foreign Office under the project Development of Mubarak Mandi as Tourist Destination under central funding has been completed at an estimated cost of Rs. 4.37 Crore while the work related to Royal Court, Gadvai Khana and Badi Deodi under the project Development of Mubarak Mandi as Tourist Destination was completed.”
However the work on Raja Ram Singh’s place, Darbar Hall Central Courtyard and Zanana Courtyard (Toshkhana) complex under “Maga project for conservation/preservation of Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex Jammu” is yet to commence and the department of Culture, government of Jammu and Kashmir credited the delay in starting work under Mega project to shortage of staff in ASI Jammu, Khajuria said.
Khajuria said the slow pace of development of the historical monument in Jammu was a cause for concern as nearly a decade had passed since the renovation work had started on it, but with little success.
“I am personally concerned over early restoration and preservation of the architectural heritage landmark,” said Rohit Khajuria.
Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner Jammu said, “We have given Rs 8 crore to ASI, which spent around Rs 6 crore and two crores are still pending with them and after disposing off this money when they ask for more funds, we will provide it, funds are not the issue.”
“The prime issues faced by this project included objection by locals, who were demanding parking space around this area. The members of working committee fail to reach consensus at certain issues, due to which the project is delayed,” Divisional Commissioner said.
Kotwal further added, “The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) which has been entrusted with the job of restoration of the Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex is under constant pressure to expedite the pace of work.”
While distancing himself from taking responsibility of its failure in completion of work, Kotwal stated that the conservation/preservation process of heritage building is a highly delicate job in nature and needs extra caution and skilled manpower for execution of works without altering the original look of the structure for which department of culture remained non committal over fixing of timeline for completion of work on this prestigious projects of Jammu.
However, both the officers viz, divisional commissioner and executive director of heritage society dodged when asked about the deadline of the project.