Shimla’s heart sinks as the Ridge develops fresh cracks
Municipal corporation seeks suggestions from IIT, Roorkee, to check the caving in of the historic maidanUpdated: Aug 12, 2020 17:09 IST
Shimla: The Ridge maidan (ground) in the heart of Shimla has developed fresh cracks and a portion of the ground near Lakkar Bazaar has sunk further after heavy rain this monsoon.
The municipal corporation has sought suggestions from experts at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, to save the Ridge from sliding further though the open space has been vulnerable ever since it was built over a century ago when the British made Shimla their summer capital.
The cracks developed at the north end of the Ridge before the monsoon but became prominent after the rains. A portion has begun to cave in, raising concern for the municipal corporation that has so far taken only piecemeal measures such as filling the cracks with concrete. But the temporary fixes have not worked.
“We have formulated a project for finding a permanent solution. The project will cost about Rs 60 crore. The corporation has taken fresh suggestions from IIT, Roorkee,” says mayor Satya Kaundal.
2015 RESTORATION PLAN REJECTED
The MC had sought the views of experts from the Roorkee institute in 2015, too. A Rs 30-crore restoration project was prepared but the then Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government did not approve the proposal.
That year, the corporation conducted a survey which found muck had been dumped in a four to nine metre area when Shimla was being developed during the British Raj. “Through the Rs 30-crore self-finance plan, the MC was going to shift the Tibetan market to the Lift area and develop a park at the marketplace but the then state government did not approve our proposal,” says former mayor Sanjay Chauhan.
The water storage tank beneath Ridge happens to be a stone structure that is not sufficiently reinforced. The open space on the Ridge in the past has been used for holding political events such as rallies and other ceremonies.
The area around Gaiety Theatre has been sinking for a while now, a phenomenon that damaged over a dozen shops at the Tibetan market in 2010. It also poses a threat to the Town Hall, which had been renovated at a cost of Rs 14 crore under a project funded by the Asian Development Bank a decade ago.
Local residents and Tibetan shopkeepers are a worried lot. “The Ridge sinks about nine inches annually. The government needs to find a permanent solution,” says Kalsang, a Tibetan shopkeeper.
VAJPAYEE’S STATUE IN PARK
The fresh cracks have upset chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s plans of installing the statue of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the Ridge. The government had finalised the spot near Padam Dev Complex, where the statue of former prime minister Indira Gandhi is put up. But now the MC has finalised a spot in a park between the Ridge and Mall Road instead.
A HISTORIC MAIDAN
*The Ridge maidan or ground was built in 1910 when Shimla was the summer capital of British India.
*The Ridge, flanked by a catchment of the Sutlej river basin on one side and the Ganga basin on the other, connects Lakkar Bazaar with Scandal Point on Mall Road.
*It houses two heritage buildings, a neo-Tudor style construction that doubles as the Town Hall and an Anglican church dating back to 1857. The religious structure built in neo-Gothic style is one of Shimla’s landmarks.
*Cracks have also appeared on a portion of the Ridge overlooking Gaiety Theatre and Town Hall.