Launched with an aim to give a fillip to the tourism industry in Amritsar, the Punjab government’s ambitious project — Urban Haat and Amritsar Heritage Hotel — at the heritage building of Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital is hanging fire even after one and half years.
GTB Hospital, a British-era building, was lying abandoned for years, and was in pitiable condition when it was handed over to us, said Narinderjit Singh, SDO, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), who had approved the Detailed Project Report (DPR). After the DPR was approved, PUDA engaged a Delhi-based firm Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the restoration of the hospital building.
According to INTACH, the restoration of the building is a Herculean task and the main reason behind the delay of the project.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Karan Ganeriwal, an architect with INTACH, said: “The building was in miserable state and it took us more than a year to clean around nine acre premises of the hospital that was full of vegetation; and then, we started the restoration work on the building. The makeover in such a short span was not an easy task as the building was lying abandoned for over six years. It needed a lot of detailing and forethought as we could not fiddle much with the heritage site.”
“The tiles we are using are being made in south and need around two months for manufacturing. All these factors putting together have added to the delay,” Ganeriwal added.
Ganeriwal and PUDA officials said they were working with caution in a restrictive situation as they could neither bring down the structure nor fiddle with it.
“When the hospital was shifted, the building was in miserable condition and it took us months to restore the mortuary area, PUDA executive engineer Surjit Singh and contractor Gurpreet Singh.
Glaring features of food street
The project has two components — a food street and a craft bazaar. The work on both is underway, and officials said these would be completed in two months. There will also be an open air theatre and a souvenir shop.
“Spread over 9.7 acre, Urban Haat will have a craft appreciation centre, a souvenir shop, Punjab emporium, food court with a capacity to accommodate 400 people, restaurants, open-air theatre, plazas, eating joints, craft bazaar, exhibition and meeting rooms, administrative complex, kitchens, green rooms, gym and spa,” said Surjit Singh.
He said the hotel, which was still in planning mode, would be spread over around five acre.
“Lease out will be done for the food street, which includes more than 20 kitchens, and for restaurants. Even franchises for international food chains will be opened,” Singh added.
The food street will be on the pattern of Lahore’s food street and will have the heritage hotel as a major attraction.