National War Memorial should be reality soon, says Antony | delhi | Hindustan Times
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National War Memorial should be reality soon, says Antony

A National War Memorial would be constructed soon, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Wednesday on the 38th anniversary of India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

delhi Updated: Dec 16, 2009 14:24 IST

A National War Memorial would be constructed soon, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Wednesday on the 38th anniversary of India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

"The Group of Ministers have had one meeting. I hope that the issue (of the location of the memorial) will be resolved soon," Antony told reporters after laying a wreath at India Gate, the memorial to the unknown soldier, on the occasion of Vijay Diwas to mark the 1971 victory that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

He was accompanied by the three services' chiefs.

The proposal for a war memorial has been in the pipeline for some years but the issue of its location has delayed its construction.

The Group of Ministers, including Antony and Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy and chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was set up earlier this year following instructions from the Prime Minister's Office.

The memorial, designed by noted architect Charles Correa, would be the first to commemorate the sacrifice of thousands of Indian soldiers in World War II and the wars that India has fought since independence.

The proposal to build the memorial close to India Gate has been gathering dust since the urban development ministry and the Delhi Urban Art Commission objected to it on grounds that it would spoil the ambience at India Gate.

Ministry officials counter the argument saying that it would only be a little higher than the ground. Most portions of the marble slabs on which the 50,000 names would be etched would actually be below ground level. They would be in a circle around the canopy next to the India Gate. People can walk along the slabs, pay their respects and move to India Gate.

The India Gate was built by the British in memory of the Indians who laid down their lives during World War I and the Afghan wars.

The proposal to build a national war memorial was first mooted in the early 1960s but was shelved following India's defeat against China in 1962. The proposal gained momentum following the Kargil conflict in 1999.

The lack of a national war memorial has been a sore point among army personnel.

"It's insulting as well as embarrassing that India is virtually the only country without a dedicated national war memorial," an Indian Army officer said, requesting anonymity.