December 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Shivalik foothills being levelled
Anandpur Sahib, December 29
The land mafia, which allegedly has the patronage of government officials and politicians, has levelled several hills and made money by selling the land for residential purpose.
The Shivaliks have a great significance as for as the geological history of the subcontinent is concerned. Many parts of the Shivaliks are important fossil sites.
Anandpur Sahib, founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1664 A.D. was given the name of “white city” at the time of the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth. It has already under gone a great change in the past. The Sikh heritage of the period of the Gurus has disappeared due to the indifferent attitude of those concerned. The SGPC too is responsible for the destruction of the rich heritage. All the five qilas, founded during the time of Guru Gobind Singh, have been replaced with marble structures. While constructing the Sikh shrines after levelling the hills, officials concerned forgot all about nature conservation reflected in the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa philosophy. What is worse the levelling of the Shivalik foothills is continuing and would disturb the ecological balance.
It is on record that the SGPC had admitted that a colossal damage had been done to the picturesque hills in the past. A booklet on the shrines of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib, published by the SGPC reads: “Guru Gobind Singh used to hold congregations at the hilltop (now Takht Kesgarh Sahib) where the revelation of Khalsa took place. At that time, the hill of Kesgarh Sahib was at least 10-15 ft higher than its present height. By the side of this hill, there stood another hill. However, this hill does not exist anymore. Similarly, there was a long range of small hills extending from Kesgarh Sahib to Anandgarh fort.
In 1973, a road was constructed to link Kesgarh Sahib Fort and the hilltops had to be levelled”.
Experts feel that the levelling of the hills would silt the adjoining water channels and huge investments would be required to desilt them.
According to residents of the city, most of the hills were levelled at the behest of deras, many of which mushroomed in the vicinity of the city after the levelling. Several hills were levelled during the peak of militancy as militants used them for hiding.
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