Dismantled National Police Memorial gathers dust

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New Delhi, May 5 (UNI) Dismantled, after being termed ''an eyesore'' by heritage activists, the National Police Memorial structure is gathering dust at a paramilitary outfit complex here, awaiting to be set up at a ''decent'' place.

Last month, the government zeroed in on a new site for the controversy-ridden National Police Memorial-- Sashastra Seema Bal's (SSB) Ghitorni complex near Mehrauli (south Delhi).

However, officials claimed that the memorial should be erected at a place from where people can see it.

A senior IPS officer said, ''We want to set up the memorial from where people can see it. The place required for the memorial and related infrastructure has been pegged at 2.5 acre. Hence, the SSB complex is not suitable for it.'' ''We do not want it to be at a place where it is hidden from the public eye as it is a matter of police pride,'' said another officer who is on deputation at a central organisation.

The memorial, that was originally coming up at Shanti Path in Chanakyapuri in the National Capital, was the subject of a lawsuit by heritage activists, forcing the government to dismantle the half-built structure.

The police officials are now eyeing a ''huge space'' of a central government department available in south Delhi. ''It is near the main road and would be visible from a distance,'' said an official.

The decision to dismantle the structure, denounced as a ''blot on the landscape by environmentalists,'' was taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs last year. Thereafter, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) floated tenders and appointed a contractor to dismantle the mammoth steel structure.

The memorial's design will remain the same even if it is re-erected at a new place.

In July 2004, the Delhi High Court stayed work on the memorial.

A giant steel sphere of 14 feet was imported from Japan but could not be perched atop it.

Heritage activists, in their court case, claimed that the structure was not in accordance with the height prescribed for any construction in the area. They also said it blocked the view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan from the Shanti Path side.

When the memorial comes up, it will fulfil a long standing demand of police forces, which always felt the need for such a memorial that could enhance public awareness about the sacrifices made by policemen since Independence.

''We are in the news for all the bad things. People relate us to bribery and torture but no one remembers us for repulsing the attack on Parliament or Ayodhya,'' said a senior SSB official.

The memorial was designed to be 30 metres high when the project was started in 2003, but later the height was raised by another 15 metres. The total expenditure was also raised from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 13 crore.

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