PUNE: In spite of being over 200 years old, the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) does not have any structure on the heritage list of UNESCO. The PCB has already made a list of five structures which can be ranked in the heritage structure list. However, the elected members of the PCB have requested the Central Expert Committee that the National War Memorial and Maratha War Memorial be prominently given heritage ranking.
The elected members have been trying to get the National War Memorial and Maratha War Memorial situated at Morwada Junction and at the intersection of Coyaji Road and Moledina Road, respectively, heritage ranking from last several years. However, it was never taken seriously. The PCB had earlier done extensive work of beautification, renovation drive, constructing compound wall and gate, pathways, display of Vijayanta tank and improving landscaping with stone engraved galleries which provide an account of major battles in the Command theatre including names of the war heroes at both memorials.
Priyanka Shrigiri, Vice President of PCB, said, “We tried several times to get prominent structures in the heritage ranking but it was never taken seriously even by the senior authorities.”
“Recently when the expert committee formed by the Ministry of Defence visited the Cantonment, we kept the requisition before them and submitted a proposal considering both the memorials and along with them Shivaji Market, St Patrick Church, St Mary Church, Racecourse, Shinde Palace and Meher Baba Dargah to be given heritage importance.”
THE NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL
National War Memorial is the only War Memorial in South Asia erected through citizens’ contribution. The citizens initiative in erecting a post-independence war memorial in Pune originated in December 1996 during silver jubilee celebrations of India’s victory over Pakistan in 1971 which led to the birth of Bangladesh. The Memorial has an 18-metre tall granite tower with marble panels carrying names of the martyrs on three sides. Names of 2,847 Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks, who laid down their lives in action since August 15, 1947 have been inscribed on the marble panels.
THE MARATHA WAR MEMORIAL
The Maratha War Memorial was constructed to honour the soldiers from Maharashtra who lost their lives fighting for the British Indian Army in the First World War. Nearly 1.8 million Indian subjects of the British Empire fought in European, Central Asian, and North African theatres of the War. In the process, 74,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives. Erstwhile divisions based in Pune, such as the 6th (Poona) Division suffered heavily during the war in the Mesopotamian theatre Around 4,000 soldiers from this division died.The foundation stone to this memorial was laid in 1921 by then Prince of Wales, Edward, who would later become the British monarch in 1936.
UNIQUENESS OF PLACES
- The PCB has already made a list of five structures which can be ranked in the heritage structure list.
- The elected members have been trying to get the National War Memorial and Maratha War Memorial heritage ranking from last several years.
- Among the two, National War Memorial at Morwada Junction is the only War Memorial in South Asia that has been erected through citizens’ contribution.