Cellular jail, Chatham Saw Mill declared heritage site
Port Blair: The historical sites and monuments in the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Island like the Cellular jail, gallows at the Viper island, Chatham Saw Mill and the Japanese bunkers will be given the status of heritage sites/buildings, official sources said today.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands State Heritage committee under the chairmanship of chief secretary Shakti Sinha in its first sitting has short listed Cellular Jail, Gallows at the Viper Island, Japanese Bunkers, Chatham Saw Mill and Government Boys` Senior Secondary School, Middle Point as the heritage sites, sources said.
More such sites and monuments will be taken up in due course so that these can be fully restored and protected.
The State Heritage Committee has decided to carry out proper demarcation of these sites/monuments, appointment of expert consultants for their restoration, provide substantial documentation of the historical events and arrangements for their protection and security, they said.
In the first phase site plan and schedule of protection will be prepared including photo documentation and structural description of monuments. This will then be used for notifying the sites/monuments in the official gazette declaring them to be protected by the Department of Art and Culture, Andaman and Nicobar administration.
The administration will ensure that the sanctity of the gallows of the Viper Island and other heritage sites is maintained, protected and showcased to the visiting tourists.
Viper Island near Port Blair was the site of the jail where the British used to imprison convicts and political prisoners. It has the ruins of a gallows atop a hillock. The jail was abandoned when the Cellular Jail was constructed in 1906.
Sher Ali, a Pathan from Peshawar, was hanged in the gallows of Viper Island after he assassinated Lord Mayo, Indian Viceroy, on February 8, 1872 at Hope Town jetty, opposite Chatham Island.
Chatham Saw Mill located on Chatham Island was set up by the British in 1836 and was one of the largest wood processors in Asia.
The Cellular Jail was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. Many notable freedom fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt and Veer Savarkar, among others, were imprisoned here during the struggle for India`s independence. The prison complex itself was constructed between 1896 and 1906.
The Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Lt Gen (Retd) Bhopinder Singh had constituted the State Heritage Committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary of the Union territory.