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Chandigarh: Philanthropist spending Rs 1 crore on makeover of Matka chowk

While philanthropist Sandeep Goyal specifies that it is only after proper permissions from the authorities that he is going ahead with this work, some heritage experts complain that it is a serious tampering with the 'intangible heritage' of the city.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | December 21, 2020 2:44:13 am
Matka chowk makeover, Philanthropist spending on Matka chowk, Chandigarh news, Punjab news, indian express newsMatka Chowk with the art installations. (Express photo)

Stating that it is a gesture of “giving back to the city he grew up and studied in”, philanthropist Sandeep Goyal is spending Rs 1 crore on the new makeover of famous Matka Chowk.

While Goyal specifies that it is only after proper permissions from the authorities that he is going ahead with this work, some heritage experts complain that it is a serious tampering with the ‘intangible heritage’ of the city.

Former Chandigarh chief architect Sumit Kaur openly took up the issue of “tampering of intangible heritage” on her social media site. “We are soon going to loose this visual connect with the beautiful Shivalik Range. The city has been designed to capture this beautiful backdrop as we move along the roads towards the north. This view is going to be blocked by an art installation that is a cluster of tall pipes with birds mounted on them. These views are the intangible heritage and part of the Statutory Chandigarh Master Plan -31,” she said.

Kaur said, “Why are we tampering with our intangible heritage — the connect with the Shivalik Backdrop!

Natural Vistas are precious for the city and part of Chandigarh’s Enlisted Heritage approved by Government of India. They now form part of the Chandigarh Master Plan -2031 that is a statutory document.”

It was said that the roads of the city have been designed to capture views of the hills as you move towards the north and that the heavy cluster of tall pipes are blocking the connect.

They said that the city has enlisted its heritage which includes these intangible heritage and the new development is intruding into and blocking the connect.

CHB that maintains the Matka chowk and has entrusted its ‘care- taking’ to Goyal said that Chandigarh heritage committee has given the go-ahead.

When contacted, a senior officer of the Chandigarh Housing Board said that approval of Chandigarh heritage committee had been taken. “Chief architect has conveyed the approval of committee directly to the agency engaged by CHB for its maintenance and the agency is doing it without charging any cost. CHB has requested CA UT to supply a copy of design,” he said.

When asked about the concept, Goyal who is getting the facelift done said, “The concept is based on ‘Murmarations’. The phenomenon in nature where hundreds of birds fly in formation whirling and flying in ever-changing formations without ever colliding or crossing each other.”

Goyal said that he had been maintaining this chowk for the past two-and-a-half-years. “The maintenance of the chowk with its maalis, flowers, water, power and soil upgradation, deweeding etc costs about Rs 2 lakh a month. It is a large chowk,” he said.

When asked about the cost of this project, he said, “The installation will cost about Rs 1 crore. The entire cost is being borne by me.”

When asked about the objections being raised by the heritage experts, he said, “The so-called heritage experts are just trying to gain some free publicity! Their claims and credentials are all self-proclaimed. The installation is blocking no view.”

He said that the “beautification and maintenance of the chowk is my ‘give back’ to the city where I grew up and studied”.

In the new design, a flock of flying birds will be visible from a distance. Steel rods of height ranging from 3 feet to 18 feet are being used while each rod has a spring to reduce the air pressure.

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