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Heritage No Upkeep For Over 30 Years, War Memorial Fights Neglect


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Layers of dust on old paintings, rusting weapons of historical importance, dirty floors of the rooms housing rare artifacts and an almost crumbling heritage building — this is what greet you at the Anglo-Sikh War Memorial located on the banks of Ferozeshah canal here. It goes without saying that the memorial had ceased to draw visitors.

This was the place where Sikhs fought the British army in 1845. The memorial set up to salute the martyrs was dedicated to the nation by the then chief minister, Giani Zail Singh, and Sanjay Gandhi in April 1976. There has been no repair work at the memorial ever since. On the other hand, while not even a penny has been spent on the maintenance, the tourism department has sanctioned Rs 1.23 crore to make kiosks, shops, an interpretation centre and a food court in the complex and these have been under construction at the site for the last one year.

Heritage paintings describing the war are in dire need of repairs, while many weapons used in the Anglo-Sikh war are rusting. Cannons used by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, too, are in a bad shape. The ‘green area’ outside the memorial is anything but green, and the gardener complains he has no submersible pump to water the grass and plants. None of the boards put up at the memorial have been retouched even once after 1976. Two decorative cannons installed outside the memorial gate, too, narrate a similar tale of negligence.

During his visit to the memorial in June this year, Ferozepur Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kishore Yadav had asked the tourism department to get the cannons repaired and get a submersible pump installed, but nothing has been done till now.

Yadav said: “Rs 30 lakh is needed for the repair work and the tourism department has been informed of this. They are managing this museum. Paintings are in a bad shape while weapons also need to be restored.”

Asked why no cleanliness was maintained at the museum, an employee, who did not wish to be named, said the sweeper employed by the department never reported on duty and would instead send somebody else, who was also very irregular. The maintenance in-charge has additional charge of many other districts. The other regular employees are a clerk, a gardener and one person to do the dusting.