Keeping in mind the huge rush of visitors and the fact that they have to jostle for space for watching the popular Retreat Ceremony at the Attari border in the evening, work on the project to construct a new spectator gallery is in full swing and may take a year to complete.
The Rs 24 crore project of the ministry of home affairs’ (MHA) aims to create a seating capacity for nearly 20,000 spectators and March 2017 has been set as the deadline for completing it, if Border Security Force (BSF) officials are to be believed.
The existing gallery on the right side has been demolished with a large structure replacing it. The 70-foot-high stand will give a clear view to the spectators.
Therefore, it is not only that the capacity will be increased but the spectators will have a better view of the ceremony wherein the BSF jawans and the Pakistani Rangers display foot stomping during flag lowering every evening.
At present, the work is going on the right side only, with the other side still untouched. The Swaran Jyanti Dwar, which was located right at the entry point of the spectator gallery, has also been demolished. Work is on to construct a new one and it will have approximate 80-foot height.
In October 2013, the MHA had sanctioned Rs 24 crore for the project and it was to be completed in 21 months. But work on the project started in April 2015.
It is not only the visitors who are seen struggling to find space, but the BSF jawans organising the ceremony also have to face a tough time ensuring everything goes on smoothly.
While 10,000 spectators reach the venue to watch the ceremony every evening, the existing gallery, which was inaugurated in 1999, can accommodate only half the number.
The government is planning to add facilities such as a conference hall, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) room, toilets, a dining hall, a guard room, a detention room, a dormitory and a kitchen. To heighten vigil, more high-tech cameras will also be installed in the area as the zone is highly sensitive.