SDM chairs meeting to review condition of Ambala cemetery
The district administration on Tuesday swung into action to review the condition of the historic Ambala Christian Cemetery on Jagadhari Road, which is virtually in ruins due to neglect and feud between two parties for its control.
Earlier on Monday, an archaeology department official visited the site to carry out observational tasks.
The move followed reports by the Hindustan Times on the dilapidated state of the cemetery, and a letter shot off by Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan KJ Alphons to the Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and principal secretary to the state government (archaeology and museums department) Ashok Khemka with a plea to save the burial ground.
In Tuesday’s meeting, Ambala city sub divisional magistrate (SDM) Sachin Gupta spoke to officials concerned about repair and maintenance of the boundary wall, water drainage system and cleaning up of the heritage site.
Gupta said the matter had come up before home minister Anil Vij and a report sought by higher authorities on the state protected site.
“I’ve directed the executive officer of Ambala Sadar municipal council, Vinod Nehra, to prepare estimates for cleaning up of the ground. The SDO public works department Ritesh Goyal has been asked to check the water drainage system and prepare estimates necessary for the repairs of the cemetery,” Gupta said.
On being asked about a letter written by the archaeology department in September on estimates for maintenance of the site, Gupta said, “Yes, the task has to be carried out by both the departments, which have been given a week. But usually the type of clearance the archaeology department carries out requires some specific contractors that are difficult to find.”
Archaeology department official visits site
Shubham Malik, technical assistant with the archaeology department and in-charge of the cemetery on Monday checked the illegal encroachments along the boundary wall, war graves and sewage water issues.
Cemetery Committee officials said this was Malik’s second visit, the first one being in September after they requested the archaeology department for help .
Banani Bhattacharyya, deputy director of the department had told HT last week that the department had already written a letter to the Ambala deputy commissioner to carry out scientific clearance at the site.
“We took the initiative because the site is an urgent need of cleaning and this is the best season to carry out clearance. For this, we needed an estimate of the area and we’ve written to DC in this regard,” she had said.
Under scientific clearance, cleaning or restoration process is carried out without causing damage to monuments (graves in this instance). Use of heavy machinery is avoided and most of the work is done manually.
A few days earlier Father Patras Mundu, secretary and treasurer of the Ambala Cemetery Committee, had said the site was common property belonging to the Christian community. He had alleged that one Shaukatt Masih Bhatti had claimed the property.
Bhatti had denied the charges and said he was the president of the cemetery .