Rise, fall and rise of a memorial | india | Hindustan Times
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Rise, fall and rise of a memorial

Home Ministry calls for design competition to mark sacrifice of policemen.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 03:16 IST

Finally, the city will get a police memorial that is truly commemorative of the sacrifice made by the policemen in the line of service and not the intimidating face of the police force that the massive steel structure at Chanakyapuri seeks to project.

The Union Home Ministry has issued directions for holding a national design competition to arrive at a new design for the National Police Memorial. At the meeting chaired last month by Home Secretary VK Duggal, it was decided that chairman of the Delhi Urban Art Commission Charles Correa will be consulted for drawing up the parameters for a design competition.

Meanwhile the existing steel structure will be dismantled and the loss of Rs 12.77 crore incurred on erecting it will be written off.

The news of a design competition has been welcomed by prominent citizens who have been protesting against the gigantic structure ever since the project was pushed through the DUAC at the instance of top ministers in the NDA regime.

Well known architect Sumit Ghosh said that conceptually the project was good as there is a need for a national police memorial that will remind people of the men in uniform from the central and state police forces who have sacrificed for the country. But instead of depicting sacrifice and service the memorial ironically ended up depicting intimidation, awe, arrogance and domination.

Ghosh along with Prof AGK Menon and SK Das had given their note of dissent when the project was pushed through in the final meeting of the DUAC in December 2002. It was this note of dissent that paved the way for the public interest petition and intervention of the Delhi High Court last year. The division bench of the court headed by Justice Vijender Jain had summoned Correa to the court and had got the project referred back to the Urban Art Commission in view of the fact that the Commission now had a full time chairman and members who could reconsider the project.

Sources in Urban Art Commission said that Correa had suggested to the government that it would be appropriate to hold a design competition to attract the best of creative talent to design a memorial that is truly a work of art.

Convenor of the Delhi Chapter of INTACH OP Jain who co-ordinated the citizens' movement against the steel and globe memorial said that the call for a fresh design competition shows how public opinion can change the course of things. He said that a fair competition for police memorial with an eminent panel of jury members would ensure that only the best design gets chosen and executed. He said that the event would set a precedent as far as decisions regarding city's future development and preparations for the Commonwealth Games go.

PS Bawa, a retired Director General of Police said that the new memorial should be dignified, solemn, graceful and serene. He said that a memorial with element of gently cascading water would truly reflective of moving memory of people who have sacrificed. It will also inspire generations. He said that the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC is one such place where the names of the war heroes have been inscribed on the curving black granite wall. People place pictures, prop flowers against the wall while paying homage.