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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Monumental delay is finishing memorial

Navrajdeep Singh , Hindustan Times  Sangrur, April 26, 2013
First Published: 00:14 IST(26/4/2013) | Last Updated: 00:56 IST(26/4/2013)

Prior to the 2012 assembly elections, it was the promise to get people's sentiments in favour, but 14 months after inauguration, the Wadda Ghallughara martyrs memorial is still not open to anyone.

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The work on the building dedicated to the mass killing of Sikhs by the army of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1762 has stalled because the state government is adamant not to pay any escalation cost to the construction company. On November 29, 2011, before the elections, chief minister Prakash Singh Badal had inaugurated it at Kup Rohira village in Sangrur district.

Denied dues, constructors Larsen and Turbo (L&T) slowed down the work when it was almost over. Without finishing touches, the building cannot open to public. Only the memorial tower and interpretation centre are complete, while the auditorium's interior is unfinished.

"The company only needs to handover the building to the archeology department but it is reluctant because dues are pending," said a source who has followed the project. "Of the estimated cost of Rs. 16 crore, the state government has paid the company almost Rs. 13.50 crore."

Deputy commissioner Kumar Rahul accepted that there was the issue of escalation cost between the state archeological department and L&T. "The agreement signed with the company had no clause to bind the government to pay more in case the cost of building material escalated," he said.

The memorial is a tribute to the 30,000 Sikhs who sacrificed their lives resisting an army of more than 1-lakh soldiers led by Afghan plunderer Ahmed Shah Abdali at Kup Rohira on February 5, 1762. The other memorials inaugurated with it are Virasat-e-Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib, the Chotta Gallughara monument at Kahnuwan in Gurdaspur district, and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur victory tower at Chappar Chirri in SAS Nagar, all constructed by L&T, handed over to the archaeology department, and already open to public.

The DC has taken up the matter with the principal secretary of the archeological department. "It will take another two months before the monument is open to public," he said. However, SS Channi, principal secretary in the archaeology department, said L&T and the local administration would sit together to discuss the matter. "We had scheduled a meeting last week," he said, "but it was postponed.

In spite of repeated attempts to contact the L&T officials in Chandigarh, there was no success.

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