Updated: September 19, 2014 3:58:24 pm
A building in a dilapidated state — with trees growing out of the cracks — stands near Sangrur at the site that has been allocated to the Post-Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) for setting up a satellite centre. With bushes all around and a crumbling roof, the building has little traces of its former glory.
The building is that of Hermitage Palace Ghabdan Kothi, which had seen better days when Maharaja Ranbir Singh, the former ruler of Jind state, resided here till 1947. Sangrur was the capital of Jind state. Built in 1920, the erstwhile palace is located 7 kilometres from Sangrur.
The PGI has been allocated 25-acre land in Ghabdan village by the Punjab government. Apart from constructing the hospital, the PGI is also looking at raising accommodation for doctors as well as some recreational facilities — the authorities believe that to attract doctors to the area, these would be essential.
While no decision has been taken by the PGI authorities on what would be done of the palace building, the Sangrur Heritage Preservation Society has raised a demand for its preservation.
Karanvir Singh Sibia, society chairman, said: “There is history attached to the palace and there is a need for preserving it. We have written to the Departments of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums, but got no positive response. Our request is that instead of considering demolition of the building, the PGI authorities could use it as an administrative building.”
Sibia runs Gen Gurnam Singh Public School in Sangrur whose administrative building was constructed in 1901 and has since been restored. He said that if an individual can restore a building by himself, there is no reason why the government cannot do it.
The Hermitage Palace was gifted to the Punjab Health Department by the Maharaja in 1957. It was used as a TB hospital for several years. The structure is now unoccupied. Water has seeped into the walls and the roof is also damaged.
Satbir Singh, the grandson of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, said that it is the wish of the family that the ancestral building be retained as a heritage structure.
Rajeev Jindal, society secretary, who has written a book ‘Princely State of Jind Revisited’, said that due to the apathy of the government the buildings that were built in the early 1900s are getting destroyed.
“There were around 20 such buildings. Some have been destroyed, others are in a dilapidated state. The maintenance and restoration of the buildings does not involve a huge cost. The government should ensure that these are maintained so that the future generations get to see the glory of the former princely state,” Jindal added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director of PGI Dr Chetan Rao said that since the master plan is yet to be made, a decision has not been taken on what is to be done of the building.
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