An old park near New Bus Stand that houses memorials of war martyrs and is popularly known as ‘Shaheed Smarak’ will make way for the development of 9.41km metro project in Ghaziabad, officials said.
Officials of Ghaziabad Development Authority said that the ‘Smarak’ will be shifted to a new location near NH-58, identified in consultation with the members of Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha, an organisation of ex-servicemen.
The ‘Smarak’ is decades old and houses two marble structures, on which the names of soldiers martyred in the 1962 (Indo-China) and 1971(Indo-Pak) wars are inscribed. This is stated to have been constructed in 1970s when Ghaziabad was still a part of the erstwhile Meerut district.
“Land for shifting the memorial has been identified and the ‘Smarak’ will be shifted to this new place which is larger than the existing space. It will be set up along the Meerut Road (over NH-58). The existing ‘Smarak’ land is required for construction of pillars for the metro extension project,” Ravindra Godbole, secretary and officiating vice-chairman of the Ghaziabad Development Authority, said.
Initially, members of Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha opposed the move to dismantle and relocate the ‘Smarak’ to another location. However, they agreed to the proposal after GDA assured of setting up the memorial in the area near NH-58.
“We will hold further meetings with the authority and also sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them for shifting the ‘Smarak’ after it is dismantled. We have asked the authority to provide electricity, water and other facilities at the new location. The land that houses the memorial at present is spread over nearly 1,800 square metres while the land identified for shifting is around 7,290 square metres. It is also free from all encumbrances. The proposed land is also next to a major road,” Colonel TP Tyagi (retired), chairman of Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha, said.
However, senior councillors and activists from the city said that dismantling and relocating memorials of martyred soldiers would constitute a ‘moral crime’.
“Any act of dismantling or relocating the structure, which is in the name of martyrs, is not acceptable at any cost. We will raise the issue with the corporation’s executive committee and also oppose the move before the corporation board. If we allow shifting of the memorial for a development project, there is no guarantee that it will not be dismantled from the new place again for another development project,” said Rajendra Tyagi, a senior councillor.
He added that the Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha is not the sole authority entrusted to make decisions about the ‘Smarak’ and other stakeholders should also be consulted in deciding on the issue.
“An organisation, on its own, cannot decide to dismantle or relocate the park or the structures. We will oppose the move at all costs and will also give representations to the authority. If they do not pay heed to our request, we will take legal recourse to save the park and the structures. These are the prominent historical landmarks of the city and should be saved,” Akash Vashistha, an environment activist from Ghaziabad, said.