A few more chunks of green at Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s heritage at Ram Bagh are likely to be converted into strips of grey with the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) shelling out a fortune to construct concrete walkways at the Children’s Park and the zoo in the name of maintenance and beautification of the area.
The trust proposes to spend at least Rs 1-crore each for the beautification of Children’s Park and zoo and the installation of a musical fountain near the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Already a major chunk of Ram Bagh has been covered by concrete in previous such projects. A part of the concrete structure serves as a parking lot, while the other half of it has been converted into a skating rink.
Regular visitors and morning walkers, who visit the park on a daily basis, said truckloads of cement had been dumped at the historic site to pave it with concrete. “Several truckloads of cement have been offloaded at the spot ostensibly to cover it with concrete, irrespective of the fact that Ram Bagh is a heritage site, and hence, a protected one as well,” said Rahul Sharma, a renowned academician of the city, and a frequent visitor to the spot.
He added that the proposed move would damage the greenery of the locale, which was the reason that people liked to visit the spot. The visitors to the area said the green cover in the historic gardens was vanishing due to the nonchalance of officials responsible for their maintenance.
If the AIT officials are to be believed, the project was mooted with a view to maintaining and beautifying the area and entails decoration of the Children’s Park and the zoo, both of which are in a shambles at present. AIT chairman Sandeep Rishi said the work was being undertaken on the orders of local bodies minister Anil Joshi with the aim of maintaining the area.
He added that while the trust was mindful of the fact that it was a protected site, the proposed project was only aimed at its beautification. “The aim is to maintain Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s heritage site. Only small chunks would be covered with tiles and walkways at both these places, which cover a total area of five acres, besides making seating arrangements in the area which once housed a zoo,” he said.
He added that an animal museum would be erected at the place that once housed the zoo, while a musical fountain would be installed near the statue of the maharaja. “There is also a proposal to place the statue of Mahatma Gandhi inside an enclosure made of toughened glass to protect it from the elements and birds,” Rishi said.