Scorching heat and the criticism from top academicians has pushed the government on back foot on celebrating 150th anniversary of India’s first war of Independence.
The National Implementation Committee (NIC) on Thursday decided that only Rs 30 lakh would be spent on the celebrations at the ramparts of Redfort on May 11, rather than Rs 4 crore as suggested by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Ministry of Culture.
Nayanjot Lahiri, who had recently resigned from the committee, had criticised the government for splurge of public money on celebrations. Shashi Bhushan, who is member of the committee, had pointed that instead of spending huge amount on celebrations the government should felicitate the families of the real heroes of the 1857 mutiny.
But the organisers also had the rising temperature in and around the Capital in mind while deciding on the May 11 event. "It would be an embarrassment to the government if there is a mishap because of the heat," a government official said, therefore the event would be "short and snappy".
Considering these views, the committee decided to reduce the budget of the celebration event at Red Fort, where all top leaders of the country including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi would be participating. Home Minister Shivraj Patil assured the committee that tight security arrangements are being put in place to thwart any untoward incident.
The government has decided that about 50,000 people would participate in the grand celebrations to be coordinated by Rajiv Sethi, a cultural activist. Of them, 30,000 people, drawn by Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan and NSS, would march to Delhi from Meerut on May 7 with halts at Govindpuram and Ghaziabad. The remaining would be mobilized from civil society and other organisations in the Capital.
The committee headed by HRD Minister Arjun Singh also gave final touches to the daylong cultural events to be organised at five to six different locations in the Capital. The Information and Broadcasting and Culture ministries would jointly organise the events with the help of Delhi government. The I&B Ministry would also be coming out with set of publications on 1857 on the day.