Heritage Manhole in Sector 22 of Chandigarh. (File)
Two heritage manhole covers were stolen from the main road between Sector 10 and Sector 3 dividing the Bougainvillea Garden, Chandigarh.
The theft took place on Thursday night. An MC officer lodged an FIR with the Chandigarh Police on Saturday.
The manhole covers designed by French architect Le Corbusier and depicting the Chandigarh map were installed on both sides of Bougainvillea Garden. Gardeners noticed the manhole covers are missing and informed Sub-Divisional Engineer, MC, Angrej Singh.
He lodged the complaint with the police. ASI Jaspal Singh is the probe officer of the case.
Sources said it is not confirmed when the manhole covers were stolen. It came to light on Thursday. These were heritage manholes.
"We have started reviewing the whereabouts of people earlier arrested in connection with theft of heritage furniture items," a source said.
There are over 2,000 heritage manhole covers installed throughout Chandigarh. The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation once conducted a detailed survey of all these manhole covers in order to protect them. Heritage Items Protection Cell (HIPC) of Chandigarh too is concerned with these heritage manhole covers. UT Adviser Manoj Parida is the head of this cell.
There have been many instances when heritage manhole covers of Chandigarh were auctioned in foreign countries fetching lucrative amounts.
Advocate Ajay Jagga, HIPC member, said, "The theft of two manhole covers puts a question mark on all the agencies including the protection cell, local police and MC, which is the custodian of these items. In 2005, first auction of heritage manhole cover was reported in the UK. One manhole cover had fetched Rs 10 lakh. We can imagine the cost of the same manhole cover must be double or triple at present. Tall claims about the safety and protection of these manhole covers are being made every time. But it is a fact that we failed to save our heritage treasure."
Shifting of heritage manhole covers
In a recent meeting of HIPC, members and directors agreed to shift all heritage manhole covers to Government Press Building, Sector 18, which will turn into a museum.
A final decision is yet to be taken.
Ajay Jagga said, "We discussed this plan at length but final decision was not taken. Recently, a few heritage manhole covers installed in Sector 17 were shifted to Government Press Building in Sector 18. A decision will be taken shortly."