28 Jan : The first Indian Chief Architect of Chandigarh M. N. Sharma, social activist Hemant Goswami, Dr. Gaurav along with other concerned citizens of the region today held a press interaction on the issues concerning heritage preservation, planned development of Chandigarh and responsibility of the citizens.
M. N. Sharma emphasized that the decision makers have a much greater responsibility to maintain the inherent character of Chandigarh. He said, “Each wrong decision causes damage to the distinct character of city. With all the good intentions of Administration the uninformed citizens and commercial greed is bringing the city to the level of other Indian cities which have fast deteriorated. Certain decisions should not be taken by the bureaucrats or the majority vote of people who are unaware of their civic responsibility and have no knowledge of the architectural values but rather be left to the real experts and architects.”
Talking about the issue of covering the buildings with paints and colours, Sharma said, “There is recent debate for the treatment of concrete facades of the most prestigious shop cum office buildings in the city. Many traders have mindlessly coloured some of the building and neglecting the rest from the vagaries of weather which could easily be cleaned to keep the original natural looks. The buildings of the capitol Complex were cleared of fungus during the golden jubilee of Chandigarh. The buildings of the city centre (sector-17) are most prestigious and of great value yet, the owners do not want to maintain its individual character and want the facades painted against the specified conditions. This would be bad decision of far reaching consequences to say the least.”
Mentioning about the efforts of youngsters wherein they have cleared some old structures of the weeds and cleaned the concrete structure to its old youthful look, Sharma said, “Some concerned and spirited young persons who want to save Chandigarh from the neglect of the authorities and the public have taken upon themselves to clean the commemorative concrete cube built for the inauguration of the sub city centre of sec 34 designed by me in 1978. The bronze plaque has been stolen and the small monument marking another important step in the making of Chandigarh lies in utter neglect. Other such monuments suffer the same fate. This act by the youngsters put forward a simple question to be answered by the Administration. If few of the young concerned citizens can clean the small concrete cube without much effort then why ruin the character of the buildings of the city centre mindlessly?”
Social activist Hemant Goswami of Citizens’ Voice emphasized that the citizens should not depend and wait for the Government to do something for them, but rather take things in their own hands wherever the bureaucracy fails. “Even small initiatives by the local community can collectively result in big change. The residents should also use RTI and approach the courts for exposing the wastage, corruption and siphoning of the development funds by various officials and their associates. Every family should follow the 50by50 yard philosophy wherein they should take the ownership and responsibility of at-least 50 yards within the surroundings of their residence. If everyone works to expose and correct all the wrongdoings in one’s locality and ensure that all the work supposedly to be done within 50 yards of their vicinity is done properly, not only Chandigarh, but the entire country would be cleaned up within a few years.” Hemant added.
Dr. Gaurav Chhabra of Hum Log mentioned; “We live in a modern city; we often say and feel proud of. We forget that its modernity is not just evolved but attained; attained by the efforts of people whom we have blatantly forgotten. The meticulous planning, and the careful execution of such planning by the people, whom we have forgotten, gave us the modern Chandigarh-the city beautiful. We have become too disrespectful to the notable past, to the significant people, and to the monuments that commemorate them. The monuments that are centre to planning of any city have lost not just their importance, but even their visibility. They are either in a dilapidated condition or are already rubble after becoming untraceable.”
“The monument in Sector 34 was cleaned of its weeds, wild grass on and around and subsequently, scrubbed with mild soap to give back the structure its shine. Every building in our city is a monument in itself; it reflects the vision of our planners in its nude appearance and demands the same treatment as this structure was given.” Dr. Gaurav mentioned.
M. N. Sharma said that when it was necessary to be blunt and point out the ill-planned growth, we did so. Now with a change in the leadership and with a new Administrator we are hopeful that people working for preserving the character and heritage of the city will get their voice heard. We have high hopes from the new Administrator.