Amritsar: Crores spent on restoration, heritage sites remain locked

While the state government is finalising a roadmap for the development of tourist sites utilising the freshly received grant of Rs 70 crore under the Centre’s Swadesh Darshan 2.0 programme, the hospitality sector is upset saying the sites restored earlier under the Centre’s Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) were still lying locked.

These include Challi Khoo, a British-era hydroelectric power generation plant, all surviving heritage gates of the walled city and the Rambagh Deori.

Those associated with the hospitality sector are irked with the authorities over their alleged failure to open restored tourist sites, including Challi Khoo, which houses a British-era overhead water reservoir for domestic supply and other heritage projects.

The municipal corporation (MC) is the custodian of all restored tourist sites. These sites were restored after the Centre sanctioned around Rs 70 crore for the holy city under HRIDAY plan in 2015. Notably, revival of the heritage gates of the holy city once again figures under the Swadesh Darshan 2.0.

Gurinder Singh Johal, a guide, said the authorities had failed to maintain heritage sites and popularise these.

“The sites have been lying closed for the want of staff. The interiors of these locked buildings, which were spruced up by spending crores of rupees, have deteriorated again. The damage caused due to rust and humidity is clearly visible on the internal walls,” Johal added.

Hotel owner Surinder Singh said a number of agencies, including PUDA and the MC, were involved in the upkeep of some of the projects, instead of a professional body.

MC Commissioner Rahul said he did not have an opportunity to go through this issue yet as he had only joined here a couple of weeks ago. He added that he would look into the matter and what needs to be done to revitalise the heritage sites for tourism.

DC Amit Talwar declined to speak on the matter.

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