Since 2009, it has missed many deadlines, and not been inaugurated.

Disrespect to martyrs Bengalurus National Military Memorial rots as authorities neglect it
news Infrastructure Friday, June 02, 2017 - 15:00

The floors on which the exhibits are put up are filled with mud, while moss grows on the replicas of the missiles. The tanks are gradually rusting and the entire area looks like a beaten down scrap of land with untrimmed shrubbery.

Bengaluru houses a National Military Memorial for the brave hearts who laid down their lives for our country. 

The way the memorial is maintained though is anything but respectful.

Inside the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain park, on Miller's Road in the city, the Memorial lies completely neglected.

The underground motivation hall, which displays exhibits of films, war milestone photos, archives of war heroes and warfare is no longer accessible. Branches of trees have been placed everywhere to block visitor entry.

Other than the ticket collectors and a few visitors, two policemen who had come to drink water were the only ones around near the memorial last Saturday afternoon.

“No one maintains the memorial. Maybe the government doesn’t have money,” the policeman said.

Conceptualised in 2009, the memorial construction was mired in a controversy which went up to the Supreme Court, when the Krishna Apartment Owners’ Association had challenged the establishment of the park at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountains Park in Vasanth Nagar.

In August, 2010, the Supreme Court had dismissed the petition and had given its nod for the construction of the memorial.

The foundation stone for the project was laid in 2009 and it now houses a MiG 23 aircraft donated by the Indian Air Force, a Vijayanta tank and an APC BTR-60 donated by the Indian Army, a scaled model of one of the largest and most powerful battle ships INS Mysore, the Arjun battle tank and Tatra-based mobile bridging equipment.

However, eight years on, the park is completely neglected and is in shambles.

Why has the memorial not been maintained?

When the memorial was proposed in 2009, the Karnataka government had decided to entrust its maintenance to a trust which had retired members of the armed forces and the state government.

In the same year, the National Military Memorial Management Trust was registered. The state government had also decided to handover the maintenance of the memorial to the trust once the construction was complete.

Today, although the memorial looks finished, thanks to the installations, it is still missing the 70-ft, 450-ton monolithic memorial stone with the names of over 22,000 martyrs.

“Currently, no one is maintaining the memorial as the work on the Veeragallu (the monolith) has not been completed. This trust is an entity only on paper. The state government has not yet handed over the maintenance of the memorial to the trust as the construction is not yet complete. Over six deadlines have been missed. The armed forces did their job and delivered the equipment they promised to donate on time. Now there is no one to maintain it,” a source, who was a part of the trust until 2014, told TNM.

Meanwhile, the trust, chaired by the Chief Minister of Karnataka, also has 14 other members including the Home Minister, representatives of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Director of the Sainik Welfare and Resettlement Board, the Principal Secretary of the Home Department.

The memorial’s construction was entrusted to the Bengaluru Development Authority, who had contracted the task of carving the monolith to sculptor Ashok Gudigar’s team of 20 experts.

“Another problem is that the BDA has failed to push the contractors to complete the work and meet deadlines. It could have cancelled the tender and called for new ones or pushed the current contractor to speed up. Once in four or five months, when complaint letters pour in, BDA authorities visit the spot, click pictures and set a new deadline, which has never been met,” the source added.

When TNM contacted Nayak, the Chief Engineer, BDA, he claimed yet again that the monolith will be completed within 15 days.

“Over 70% of the sculpting work is done. It has become difficult to rotate the structure due to its weight, which is why there have been so many delays,” Nayak added.

According to the source, an Ahmedabad-based company, Nebros Technologies was entrusted with the task of catering to the logistics like rotating the stone and transporting it from Devanahalli to the memorial site.

“Nebros in turn sub-contracted the work to a Bengaluru-based company. This company is lackadaisical and is least bothered about the project completion. Neither is the BDA bothered to push the contractor or hire someone else to finish the job quickly,” the source told TNM.

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