Haryana govt stops restoration of heritage building, says no approval was obtained

When the matter came to the notice of Additional Chief Secretary Dheera Khandelwal, she asked why the work was initiated without approval and ordered it be stopped right away. Khandelwal was not available for comment.

Written by SUKHBIR SIWACH | Chandigarh | Published: June 13, 2018 2:19:25 am
The facade of Nahan Kothi in Panchkula

THE RESTORATION of the historic Nahan Kothi situated in Panchkula has been stopped. Chandigarh Newsline has learnt that the government pulled the plug on it as Director-General, Archaeology, Praveen Kumar had not obtained approval for his restoration plan and had begun work on it without involving trained conservators.

A visit to Nahan Kothi in Panchkula’s Sector 12-A revealed that the paint and the plaster on the walls has been scraped off from the facade of the building, exposing the brickwork. As the work has been suspended, the rubble is still lying in the corridors. The 160-year-old Nahan Kothi building is the only remnant of the 19th century British architecture in Panchkula, according to the archaeology department.

Sources said the officials of Department of Archaeology and Museums, Haryana, had made a proposal for restoration of the monument in February. Making an estimate of Rs 78 lakh, the officials had suggested getting it done by the state tourism department. But Director-General Praveen Kumar vetoed involving another department, and began the restoration work as per his own plan. The sources said the work was being done without the supervision of a trained conservator.

When the matter came to the notice of Additional Chief Secretary Dheera Khandelwal, she asked why the work was initiated without approval and ordered it be stopped right away. Khandelwal was not available for comment.

When contacted, Kumar said, “Additional Chief Secretary had ordered that the work should not be undertaken without going into technical aspects. But I had informed her that there was a technical basis for undertaking the work.” On initiating work without a trained conservator, Kumar said, “I am director general of conservation wing. Hamare se jyada jante ho kya (Do you know more than me?).”

He said: “We will resume the work after two-three months after installing our own machine. Traditionally, the archaeology department has been doing such work. If we can carry out a project worth Rs 70 lakh for just Rs 6 lakh, what’s the requirement of getting this work done by tourism department. We have 150 sites to look after in Haryana.”

In May last year, after a 10-year-long struggle, the department had taken control of Nahan Kothi for its restoration work. According to the Haryana tourism’s website, Nahan Kothi was built by Surjan and Bir Singh, the sons of Raja Fateh Singh (1857-63 AD), the ruler of Sirmour state. The building was modelled on British constructions of the time. This region, including Morni and other adjoining hilly areas of Haryana, was then under the jurisdiction of Sirmour state. The capital of this state was Nahan (Himachal Pradesh). Hence the name Nahan Kothi was given to this building.
From 1997 until recently, it housed the Panchkula consumer courts, even after the building was declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India.

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