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Posted at: Feb 21, 2015, 2:13 AM; last updated: Feb 21, 2015, 2:13 AM (IST)

Amritsar, grab the chance

Community participation the driver for ‘heritage city’ push

Amritsar has the unique fortune of being on the mind of so much of humankind. The holy city’s misfortune has been that its pull has not resulted in the expected change, in the walled city and elsewhere. Chaos is a constant. The Galiara scheme saw bazaars in the narrow surrounding lanes being demolished to beautify the periphery around the Golden Temple. An elevated road leads to the shrine now, the congested Bhandari Bridge will hopefully get new slip roads, the BRTS is seeing quick progress and even the much-debated solid waste management project could eventually see the light of day.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to visit Amritsar to launch the Rs 69-crore heritage project, keeping the promise he had made while contesting the Lok Sabha election, which he lost. The project includes maintaining heritage sites, besides upkeep of infrastructure, cleanliness and roads. It’s a dose the city needs badly, but not without taking into account the micro issues. Of how in the name of heritage, roads have been closed to residential areas near the Golden Temple. Of how the main reason for pollution in the area could be the diesel generator sets that have to be used because of the long power cuts. Of how you can’t plan better marketing of traditional items and discourage traders at the same time.

Among the several reasons why the Golden Temple leaves a lasting impression are the cleanliness, the selfless spirit of the devout and the peace that envelops even when in a crowd. Great cities call for such devotion from residents. Heritage status does not mean  flyovers. It is an inviting walk through history that allows you to soak in the colours and the flavour. Include Tarn Taran if you must in the project, but involve the community and get it right this time.


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