Sri Harmandir Sahib entrance plaza to miss Diwali deadline

Amritsar, Punjab: Sri Harmandir Sahib Entrance Plaza project would miss the Diwali deadline set by the state government. Work on the plaza that started in May 2011 is far from complete and it is now expected to open only by February next year.

Agencies involved in the work were planning inauguration of the sprawling open space in the plaza to facilitate pilgrims on Diwali while work on the basement would have continued. However, that doesn’t seem possible.

Though work on the marble flooring is around 80 per cent complete, final touches are pending, sources said. Work is underway on a war-footing, but it would take some time to facilitate open space and free movement of devotees.

The district administration said the new ‘jora ghar’ (shoe-keeping facility) and ‘gathri ghar’ (baggage room) will be thrown open for pilgrims on Diwali. These are the only facilities on the ground floor. The rest will be in the basement.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal is monitoring the project. Around 80,000 square feet area will be paved with ‘makrana marble’, one of the finest varieties of marble. Ornamental plants, benches and lights to facilitate pilgrims will also be put up. The sprawling plaza area will facilitate smooth movement of pilgrims.

The underground facilities would include a state-of-the-art interpretation and information centre for tourists, VIP lounge, bank, ATM, airlines and railway inquiry, a multipurpose hall, security and services area, toilets and other public conveniences.

As there is a lot of VVIP movement at the Golden Temple, the plaza will have a separate lounge to accommodate dignitaries and their entourage. An auditorium with a seating capacity of 100-150 persons would be built so that a visiting dignitary could address the media. At present, there is no proper place in the shrine complex where mediapersons can interact with VIPs.

The shrine is visited by thousands of devotees from across the globe every day and their number crosses the one lakh-mark on special occasions such as Gurpurab.

Source: The Tribune

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