Staff Correspondent

`A tribute to complete the road by 2008, when the tercentenary of the death of Guru would be observed'

Blueprint of the project conceptualised, modalities were being worked out: Amarinder Singh`Khalsa Heritage Complex a vital link to apprise the Punjabi Diaspora about the cultural heritage and legacy' Total cost of Heritage Complex Rs. 221 crores

ANANDPUR SAHIB: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has announced that the existing Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Takhat Sri Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib to Takhat Sri Dam Dama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo would be extended up to Takht Sri Sach Khand Hazoor Sahib in Nanded in Maharashtra by 2008.

Addressing a gathering after dedicating first phase of the Khalsa Heritage Complex (KHC) here on the occasion of Baisakhi, Capt Singh said that the blueprint of this project had been conceptualised and the modalities were being worked out with the four State Governments of Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to execute this project within the stipulated time frame. He said it would be tribute to complete the road by 2008, when the tercentenary of the death of Guru Gobind Singh would be observed.

While the dominant faction of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) owing allegiance with former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, stayed away, the function at the KHC began with the `ardas' jointly performed by eminent Sikh personalities including heads of the various Sikh religious institutions and organisations and some members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

The plaque to mark the inauguration of the first phase of Complex was unveiled, amid chanting of `Satnam Waheguru' and `Bole So Nihal', by prominent Sikh personalities including Sant Harbans Singh from Delhi, Baba Labh Singh from Qila Anandgarh Sahib, Baba Jagtar Singh from Tarn Taran, Baba Gurbachan Singh Dashmesh Parivar, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi who heads a conglomerate of Sikh saints called Sant Samaj and former Jathedar Akal Takhat, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode.

Interacting with the reporters after the event, the Chief Minister said, "I don't care for the SGPC. Do they think themselves superior to the assembly of the Saints, who command much more respect among the people?" He stressed that he was also a devout Sikh, who believed in the teachings and the values preached by the Gurus.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Capt. Singh said that the Khalsa Heritage Complex was not merely a monument but a vital link to apprise the Punjabi Diaspora about the glorious and rich cultural heritage and legacy. He said that this was a unique endeavour of the State Government to showcase the different facets and various aspects of 500 years of Sikh history for the future generations.

Capt. Singh said that KHC had the ingredients to become one of the wonders of the modern world, while it propagated the basic tenets and philosophy of Sikhism besides the fusion of culture highlighting the concept of `Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiyat'.

"Designed on a scale parallel to that of leading culture institutions of the world, the project is set to place the holy town of Anandpur Sahib on the international map," the Chief Minister said complimenting the genius of Moshe Safdie, an Israeli architect who has designed the KHC. He also appreciated the management of Larsen & Toubro and the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad who had been entrusted with the task of the construction and development exhibit design of the project respectively.

Later he felicitated all the eminent Sikh personalities present on the occasion.

In his keynote address Cultural Affairs Minister Partap Singh Bajwa said that the total cost of the project was Rs. 221 crores, of which Rs. 90 crores had been spent so far The construction work was suspended for almost two years due to paucity of funds but with the intervention of Capt Singh a bank loan of Rs.100 crores had been raised against a State Government guarantee for the completion of the complex. The Union Government has also sanctioned another Rs. 48 crores out of the special grant. He was said that entire project was likely to be completed by April 2007.

President of the Sant Samaj Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi appealed to Capt. Singh to take up the matter with the Centre for early return of valuable documents and artefacts taken away by the Army during Operation Bluestar from the Sikh Reference Library.