The area around the Durgiana Mandir saw chaos on Monday with roads having been dug up, sewers being laid and buildings razed to the ground.
It may not be a pleasing site for tourists and pilgrims visiting here after travelling hundreds of miles for paying obeisance not just at the Golden Temple but also at Durgiana Mandir. However, all these woes and complaints will be over, perhaps in another two years, as the Durgiana Mandir authorities along with the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) have laid down a detailed plan to beautify the area around the shrine.
“The Durgiana Mandir beautification plan is currently underway and we hope to finish it in the next two years. All chaos, confusion and problems that pilgrims are encountering with will be over and they will have enough space to meditate in serene surrounding, even outside the shrine,” said Ramesh Chander Sharma, general secretary, Shri Durgiana Committee, stated while discussing the plan with Hindustan Times.
Sharma said the Rs 29-crore beautification plan was being executed by the AIT, which had also finalised the detailed plan in consultation with the Durgiana Committee.
Sharma said after the AIT had granted approval to the plan, the foremost and perhaps the most difficult task was to acquire the properties that were to be demolished in accordance with the beautification plan.
He said while some of the properties belonged to the Durgiana Committee, others belonged to the government, while a few were private structures. “A total of 55 properties, including shops and houses and two ‘akharas’ (religious centres of learning), have been acquired. The process began last year and it took some persuasion for the properties to be acquired,” he added.
Barring the case of the two ‘akharas’, the Shri Durgiana Committee dealt with every case compassionately and alternate properties were given to all those who were displaced. The case of one of the two akharas has gone to the courts, while the other one was decided after it was found in revenue records that the land on which it was built was the government owned.
“We told the AIT that we would not take away anyone’s means of livelihood. So even if a person was running a shop in a rented property, the Durgiana Committee gave him an alternative site and monetary compensation was also given to the owners of these properties,” he said.
As of now, the demolition process of acquired properties has been started. New sewerage is also being laid, which is not a part of the beautification plan, but will help prevent waterlogging.
Beautifying the area
The foremost task laid down in the beautification plan is to provide a multi-storied parking that will accommodate nearly 400 four-wheelers and 600 motorcycles. Other structures planned are an open-air theatre, a coffee house, a ‘jora ghar’ (for keeping shoes), a shopping complex and a few other structures.
A long-pending task
The Durgiana Mandir beautification plan was conceived for the first time in 1977 when Congress MLA from Amritsar (West) Sewa Ram Arora was chairman of the AIT. Thereafter, it was laid to rest and revived only another Congress MLA from Amritsar (North) Jugal Kishore Sharma became the AIT chairman in 2004. However, after Sharma was replaced, the plan was again laid to rest. It was again revived in 2008 when the current mayor, Bakshi Ram Arora, was the AIT chairman. The plan was finally notified on May 24, 2008, but work on it only began last year.