Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 15
As Nek Chand — the creator of city’s world-class tourist destination, Rock Garden — turned 90 today seeing a grand celebration organised by his supporters, the scrap-made sculptures and monuments also completed 38 years of their existence.
Having enthralled visitors for all these years, these sculptures and monuments made with unusual utilisation of scrap and waste material, however, are now in urgent need of repair.
Amid Nek Chand’s birthday celebrations attended by all top officials of the Chandigarh Administration, theatre artistes, his supporters and former bureaucrats, there were a few who lamented the UT Administration’s apathy towards Nek Chand’s demands to develop and maintain the Rock Garden.
While former Chief Commissioner of UT Administration, TN Chaturvedi, recalled his “good old days when Nek Chand would approach him for various sanctions,” former Chief Election Commissioner of India, SY Quraishi, recalled Rock Garden’s “checkered history”.
“All open-minded officers supported him and narrow-minded officers opposed him and also tried to lay roadblocks in his path. But he was undeterred,” recalled Quraishi. Justice Ajay Tewari, from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, meanwhile, said, “Our support to Nek Chand has been highly inadequate. Let’s not let that happen anymore.”
Rupan Deol Bajaj, a retired IAS officer, who took the lead to organise the celebrations, also appealed to the UT officials that they should not become his “raqueeb (rival)” and recognise his worth.
The UT Adviser said, “Considering Nek Chand’s health and age, we have directed the officials concerned to clear the formalities pertaining to sanctions required by him on a priority basis.”
About Rock Garden
It was officially inaugurated on January 24, 1976, by Nek Chand. He began collecting waste materials from demolition sites around the city. Rock Garden was developed in three phases and currently spread over 12-acre complex with interlinked courtyards. The sculptures of dancers, musicians, and animals can be seen made of waste material in all three sections, including artificial waterfalls.
More than 2.5 lakh people visit the garden every year and the revenue generated from tickets turns out to be Rs 1.8 crore a year (Rs 5,000 per day). The garden is maintained by the Nek Chand Foundation formed in 1996. It is currently headed by Nek Chand and volunteers from other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom.
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