Eighty-five years after the Duke of Connaught laid the foundation stone for India Gate, there is talk of a new war memorial being erected nearby. If it comes up, the India Gate grounds will never look the same again.
The proposal — to construct what will be the first national war memorial by the government — is 40 years old. Now, the Defence Ministry is pushing ahead with it and controversy has followed.
According to the plan, the memorial will be built behind the canopy or chhatri. There will be a lawn on a raised platform as high as the canopy’s plinth. On the inside will be a wall inscribed with the names of all the soldiers who died fighting after 1947.
But the Heritage Committee and the Central Vista Committee — in charge of development in the area between Vijay Chowk and India Gate — have objected to the plan. The panels, under the Ministry of Urban Development, maintain it is a heritage area and should not be tampered with.
Balbir Verma of the Central Vista Committee said all the members disapproved of the idea at a recent meeting. The Heritage Committee at a meeting on October 16 also said the wall would obstruct the view of India Gate.
But the plan was far from abandoned, confirmed S.M. Acharya, additional secretary, urban development ministry.