The Deputy Mayor of Shimla on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shift out his public meeting this month from the historic Ridge ground, for fear any large congregation would damage the century-old drinking water storage tank underneath.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar said the drinking water storage tank below the Ridge dates back to British India -- built in 1910 -- and is "highly vulnerable" to damage and the summer festival too should be shifted out to the other side of the Ridge towards the Gaiety Theatre.
The Deputy Mayor said the 107-year-old water storage tank has already developed cracks at one end.
"This storage tank is a stone masonry built structure which does not have any reinforcements. Also, I would like to apprise you that during the recent cleaning of this tank, we have witnessed cracks developing at one end of the tank, which is towards the Lakkar Bazaar area," the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader said.
"Also, to apprise you that over the years of 'developmental activities', instead of scrapping the concrete from the top there has been more than three feet surcharge load of concrete in successive decades, which makes the tank more vulnerable in its load bearing capacity owing to old stone masonry composition," he added in the letter.
The Ridge -- once the promenade for the British colonial rulers when this city was their summer capital -- is a popular tourist landmark.
Taking notice of the state capital's haphazard development, the state High Court in its May 2015 order had noted that the north slope of the Ridge and open space just above the Mall, which extends to the Grand Hotel in the west and Lower Bazaar in the east, was slowly sinking.
Besides the Town Hall building, now housing the municipality, the Ridge has the Gaiety Theatre -- another British landmark.
In the past few years, the Ridge has developed cracks, mainly in the monsoon.
Major cracks had appeared on the street in 2008 when about 20 shops of the Tibetan market, located beneath the Ridge, collapsed in heavy rains. Two shopkeepers were killed.
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