Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s palace faces neglect PK Jaiswar Tribune News Service http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20101105/punjab.htm#7 Amritsar, November 4 Even after the Centre declared the historic summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh a protected monument six years back, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is still awaiting its handover for its preservation and maintenance. At present, the ASI has two structures, including “machhi ghar” (once the munshi khana), “shahi hamam” (royal bath), besides four watchtowers and a “deori” under its control. The remaining structures are being conserved by the Department of Tourism, Government of Punjab. Ironically, the preservation work on parts of the monument, started about three years back by the Tourism Department, has been going on at a tardy pace. Expressing concern over the sorry state of affairs, the ASI authorities have written to the district administration a number of times for handing it over to them as the department (ASI) was facing difficulties in maintaining and preserving the monument spread over 678.18 kanals. Local tourism officer Balraj Singh said the conservation work was delayed due to shortage of expert hands that was brought from other parts of the country. Director of the Department of Tourism Husn Lal, however, said the preservation was being done in phases with its first phase being near completion. “The proposal for the second phase of the project has been sent to the government. It will be handed over to the ASI after completion of the first phase. Though management of summer palace will remain with the Tourism Department, as it will be converted into a museum,” he said. Superintendent Archaeologist, Chandigarh Division, ASI, BC Sharma said whatever conservation was being carried out by the Tourism Department was very slow. It is pertinent to mention here that the state government, which has also notified the area as protected structure, designated the Department of Tourism for preservation of a few structures of the historic building and allotted Rs 2.25 crore for the same. The conservation architects during the preservation had found original layers of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time at the historic garden. During the digging operation, they found an earthen sanitation system that was prevalent in those days. The heritage building suffered untold damage during the British rule due to unscientific alterations.