NEW DELHI: All VVIP leaders will now be laid to rest in a single crematorium to be developed on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi. A decision to this effect was taken by the Union cabinet on Thursday.
Currently VVIP samadhis occupy more than 245 acres of prime land in Delhi. A samadhi complex will be developed as ‘Rashtriya Smriti’ where the last rites of the VVIPs can be performed.
Though the decision not to make any more samadhis was taken in 2000, it took 13 years for the government to earmark a single place for the VVIPs.
The decision was that “henceforth government shall not develop any samadhi for departed leaders” in view of the paucity of land at the samadhis complex area, and a ‘Rashtriya Smriti’ will developed to perform last rites of departed national leaders. The Rashtriya Smriti area will provide space for last rites, besides space for the public gatherings to pay homage to those cremated or buried there.
In the past, separate memorials for departed national leaders were created near Rajghat, the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi which covered a large space.
In response to an RTI application filed by Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, the civil wing of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) said Rs20 crore was of state exchequer was being spent on the upkeep of these samadhis every year.
It may be noted that Shanti Van, memorial to Jawaharlal Nehru occupies largest area of land (52.6 acres) among these memorials.
Raj Ghat, built in memory of Mahatma Gandhi, measures 44.35 acres on the western bank of the Yamuna in Delhi. The memorial is a simple square stone platform in black marble.
Vijay Ghat is the samadhi of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. It occupies around 40 acres of land. The victory alluded to in the name of the memorial is India’s performance under his leadership in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
Shakti Sthal is the samadhi of Indira Gandhi. Spread over 45 acres, the samadhi has a huge greyish-red monolithic stone in the memory of India’s first and only woman prime minister Indira Gandhi. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s samadhi ‘Veer Bhumi’ is spread out in 15 acres, while Kisan Ghat of former prime minister Charan Singh occupies 19 acres.
Ekta Sthal in memory of Giani Zail Singh occupies 22.56 acres. Samata Sthal in memory of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram has come up in an area of 12.50 acres.
There are some other earmarked areas also for Karma Bhumi in memory of former president Shankar Dayal Sharma, Smriti Sthal in memory of former prime minister Chandrashekhar, Uday Bhumi in memory of former president KR Narayanan.
There is Sangharsh Sthal, the samadhi of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, besides the samadhi of former presidents R Venkataraman and the Mazar of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad.
The samadhi of Sanjay Gandhi, the deceased son of Indira Gandhi, is also built next to Shanti Van.
Gandhi heritage: The cabinet also cleared establishment of the Gandhi Heritage Sites Mission with the objective of conserving and restoring the heritage sites associated with the Father of the Nation.
There are 39 core sites as well as other 2,000 important sites identified for the purpose by a panel headed by Gandhi’s grandson and former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
The mission would be entrusted with the identification, collation and assessment of information on ‘Gandhi Heritage’ material for its management and deployment, an official statement issued here said. The mission’s task would also include the determination of conservation methodology and priorities for documents and objects, particularly from the point of view of archival storage and museology and for physical structures and sites, as also guidelines for their subsequent maintenance.
The dissemination of information based on relevant material for identification, collation and assessment and conservation would be through a web-based portal, publication’s, audio/visual (CDs, digital prints, etc.) and communication through core sites while specifying, where necessary, function and use and the significance of the site, the statement said.