The goal of having a war memorial in the state capital for soldiers who fought in post-independence era wars and military operations has yet to become a reality, despite the fact that land was set aside two years ago. Originally conceived in the 1990s, the project had been on the back burner for years. Land-related objections later forced the social welfare department of Sainik, Kerala, to abandon a plan to build the memorial near Shanghumughom beach. Although 1.5 acres of ‘poramboke’ government land in Akkulam was identified in 2020 as an alternative site, work on the memorial has yet to begin.
The design has not yet been approved
A design for the memorial submitted by the Sainik Welfare Department to the state government is also awaiting clearance, sources said. A senior department official said The Hindu that land development works were in progress at Akkulam. The chosen location is close to the tourist village and the headquarters of the Southern Air Command. He attributed the delay to the COVID-19 outbreak and problems in determining the precise boundaries of the land. This last issue has been resolved. ”We have finished building the perimeter fence. Soil testing is ongoing,” the official said. As things stand, ministry officials expect the foundation stone of the project to be laid only by the next fiscal year, at the earliest.
The record on this project dates back to the 1990s when the Union government asked states to erect memorials. The Kerala government issued the initial order transferring 1.15 acres at Shanghumughom on June 28, 1999 to Sainik’s Welfare Department. However, this plan had to be scrapped as the site was being used as a playground and the local community raised objections. Akkulam was identified as a suitable location by a war memorial committee which was appointed by the state government in 2018.
The existing war memorial in the capital, a pillar that stands in a small enclosure opposite the College of Fine Arts, commemorates the soldiers who fought in the First World War.