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Khalsa Heritage Project to meet its 2007 deadline

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 31 (UNI) Having crossed many a political and financial hurdle, the Rs 224 crore mega Khalsa Heritage Project will be ready by next year to provide a fascinating journey into the Sikh faith and its 500 years of history, full of valour and sacrifices.

Work on the stupendous project in Punjab's holy town of Anandpur Sahib, which had hit a roadblock because of financial crunch, is going full steam and slated to be fully commissioned on Baisakhi Day (April 13) next year.

The Union Cabinet had yesterday approved the government's contribution of Rs 48.33 crore for the project to the Punjab government and release of balance amount of Rs 46.33 crore.

A sum of Rs two crore was released to the state government during 2004-05.

Culture Ministry sources said an amount of Rs 79 crore had so far been spent on the project, which was launched during the Khalsa tricentenary celebrations in 1999 by the then Akali Government.

The state government spent Rs 31 crore on the project out of Rs 50 crore released by the Centre in 1999. As the project was planned on a grand scale and required additional funds, the Punjab government approached the Centre after the construction work came to a halt in 2004.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Anandpur Sahib on September 1, 2004, announced that the Centre would contribute the required funds for completion of the Rs 224 crore project.

The work got restarted as the Anandpur Sahib Foundation had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the PNB-led consortium of five banks for lending a term loan of Rs 100 crore.

The balance amount is being met by contributions of Rs 48.33 crore each from the Centre, the Punjab government and community donations.

The project, conceived as two integrated sets of building on a 100-acre site -- the western complex and the eastern complex -- would be completed in December this year while the Khalsa Heritage Museum will be formally opened on April 13 next year. The western complex forms the gateway for Anandpur Sahib town and hosues buildings for catering to the needs of the people, like exhibition galleries, reserach and reference library and a 400-deat auditorium to host seminar and cultural events.

The eastern compllex will house the Khalsa Heritage Museum comprising permanent exhibit galleries on 500 years of Sikh heritage. ''This museum will rival with the best in the world,'' the sources said.

Renowned American architect Moshe Safdie is engaged in the project, being executed by Anandpur Sahib Foundation, the nodal agency for its execution.

''I have been visiting the place regularly since 1997. This is not only a professional assignment but one completely immersed in Sikhism. Before designing the Khalsa heritage project I had studied a lot about Sikhism and visited a number of gurdwaras,'' says the US architect.

On completion, the project will become one of the major interpretive historic museums of the world. The spectacular architecture and the exhibits will be the defining features of the project.

The museum would cover 500 years of Sikh history, starting from Guru Nanak Dev. Sophisticated multi-media and virtual reality equipment will be used.

''It is set to place the holy town of Anandpur Sahib on the international map of tourists and will have both educative and entertainment values,'' the sources said.

For the Sikhs, this complex would serve as a reaffirmation of roots, and for the non-Sikhs, it will provide a fascinating insight into the Sikh faith and its history, beginning with Guru Nanak Dev.

UNI

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