With Jharkhand government roping in a private firm to review all aspects related to development of the historic Pahari Mandir, the fate of one of the country’s tallest flagpoles, on which a Tricolour was last hoisted two years ago, hangs in balance.
The flag was hoisted on the flagpole — 293-ft-high and erected on a base about 200 ft-high — for the first time on January 23, 2016, and next on Independence Day that year. Thereafter, due to one reason or the other, the flag has not flown atop it.
SDO, Ranchi, Anjali Yadav, who is also ex-officio secretary of Pahari Mandir Samiti, said, “It has been decided that all issues regarding Pahari Mandir would be reviewed by L&T and it will give its recommendations. Any further decision on Pahari Mandir, including a decision on the flagpole, can be taken only after that.”
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das visited Pahari Mandir towards the end of July and issued instructions to develop the area into a tourist attraction while ensuring no further damage to the hill.
On January 23, 2016, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar hoisted a flag atop the 293-ft flagpole for the first time. The flag was 66ft-by-99ft in dimensions and weighed 60 kg. Right from the beginning, it began to face wear-and-tear. A couple of flags were replaced, but the problem persisted with heavy winds repeatedly damaging the fabric.
The last flag was procured from Sharjah — it had a better fabric and weighed almost twice the first flag. But, a new problem cropped up on April 17, 2016, when the flag got stuck midway while being hoisted. It took 10 days just to bring it down. The technicians, helped by Mecon India Limited, which was the project consultant, repaired the system to prevent any repeat. On August 15, 2016, the flag was hoisted.
However, by that time, a couple of petitions had been filed in Jharkhand High Court, alleging disrespect to the national flag due to the repeated misadventures while hoisting it. In one of its orders, the High Court directed the administration to ensure that no disrespect by way of wear-and-tear was caused to the national flag and to hoist it only on special occasions.
With the Pahari Mandir Samiti not sure if the wear-and-tear problem could be solved, the flag was not hoisted even on special occasions.
A Pahari Mandir Samiti spokesperson said, “The flag has not been hoisted since the last two years. We did not want to have another problem.”
It has been a tradition to hoist the Tricolour on Pahari Mandir on Independence Day and Republic Day as it is believed that many freedom fighters were hanged to death by the British on the hill.