GGM Science College

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A College 0f Heritage

Nishikant Khajuria, A College 0f Heritage "Daily Excelsior" 2/8/2015

GGM Science College

Standing tall amidst sky-high pines and sprawling lawns, the ages old monumental architecture of the Government Gandhi Memorial Science Colleges, which started its journey as Prince of Wales Colleges more than 100 years ago, does a bit more than justify the “Heritage status” that it has been recently conferred upon by the University Grants Commission.

Besides adding its share of literati to the knowledge pool of the State and the nation over the years, GGM Science College serves as a witness to the transition of times that the generations have beheld. The mighty girth of the walls enclosing this engineering marvel is strength personified.

The royal beginning of this Institution of Higher Learning dates back to 1905, when Maharaja Pratap Singh announced the opening of this college. With 26 students on its roll and Prof R N Mukherjee officiating as the Principal of the College, the campus came to life on 20th April 1907, even though the foundation stone was laid in July 1904, amidst a vast lush green area of about sixty-five acres, by the then Resident of Kashmir, Sir Francis Young Husband. GGM Science College, Jammu, has, unswervingly, upheld the essence and richness of traditions and academics with pride ever since it came into existence.

The Prince of Wales College was affiliated to Punjab University, Lahore in May 1908. Initially a stream of subjects namely English, Mathematics, Chemistry, History, Persian, Sanskrit and Philosophy were taught up to the Intermediate state. In January 1910, two more subjects namely Geology and Arabic were introduced and gradually most of the courses were upgraded to the graduation level. The college was shifted to its present location on 18th September 1912 with Prof S Robson as the Principal. By virtue of it having probably the best infrastructure in the whole of northern India, the college attracted scholars and teachers of repute and stature as its faculty members and hence the college excelled academically. The doyen of Indian Geology Dr D N Wadia established the Department of Geology in 1930. Its departmental museum, with its rich and rare collection, continues to be one of the best museums of Geology in the whole of Northern India. The college continued to expand and in 1940, K G Sayaiden, the then Director of Education inaugurated an independent Library block. Around the same time, the Arts Block came up and subsequently departments of Bio-Sciences (1954) and Geography were also added. Freedom of India from British rule led to renaming of the Prince of Wales College to Government Gandhi Memorial College on 20th May 1948.

This college has the distinction of having one of the oldest museums of Geology, housing the finest and most extensive collection of fossils, minerals and rocks as old as 3 billion years old. These include specimens of meteorites, vertebrate fossils, rocks and mineral specimens collected from different parts of world. The Geology museum, named after Dr D N Wadia, was established in 1912, and this is one of the oldest specialist geological museums in India. An eleven-feet long fossil tusk of Elephas Ganesha (Stegodon Ganesa), a close relative of the ancestors of the present day elephants, believed to have lived between Pliocene and Pleistocene periods, retrieved from Jagati Hills, Nagrota, Jammu by Dr D N Wadia, is at display in this Geological Museum.

The GGM Science College Central Library holds over 60000 books. Some of these books are more than 100 years old. Besides, the geology department library contains about 200 rare books and journals of late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century. The oldest journal dates back to 1862.

Similarly, the Department of Geology in GGM Science College, is the second oldest department of Geology in India. The teaching of Geology was started in the department in 1907, more than a century ago. The department has the honour of being founded by the father of Indian Geology, Padam Bhushan Dr D N Wadia, FRS who was appointed professor of Natural sciences in the college in 1906. Given the contributions of Dr D N Wadia to the field of Geology in general and to this college in particular, Wadia Chamber was also recently established in the Department of Geology,

Now, following the official conferment of `Heritage Status’ to GGM Science College and sanctioning of Rs 55 lacs for maintenance and preservation of heritage resources under different heads, the college is all set to materialize its plans like establishment of an Heritage gallery, digitalization of the library, preservation of the Geology museum etc.

Pertinent to mention here that in its 12th Plan period, UGC launched a scheme of granting `Heritage Status’ to Colleges and Universities, which are more than 100 years old. 60 such proposals from Colleges across the country were received by the UGC. This included proposals from GGM Science College, Jammu and Government SP College, Srinagar. Along with 18 other colleges across India, GGM Science College, Jammu was accorded the Heritage status. In response to its proposal submitted and case presented during the interface meeting at UGC, New Delhi on May 13, 2015, the GGM Science College received sanction to the tune of Rs 55 lacs for maintenance and preservation of heritage resources under different heads. Rs 25 lacs have been approved for digitalization of College Library including Geology Department Library, Rs 10 lacs for establishment of Heritage Gallery, Rs 10 lacs for preservation and maintenance of Geology Department Museum and Rs 10 lacs for sensitization of community in general and students in particular of significance of historic and cultural implication of heritage status in J&K.

The proposal was conceptualized, drawn up and presented before the UGC Expert Committee by Dr Satinder Singh, Principal of the College, Dr Ravinder Tickoo Associate Professor and Rakesh Gupta, Assistant Professor of the College.

The proposed Heritage Gallery has been planned to be established inside the Old Hall displaying historical photographs contemporary of the era with the establishment of the college, scientific equipments of yester years of the college etc. The college has plans to undertake the preservation process of the invaluable books and journals through digitization and prevention against bookworms etc. The college library records viz, accession, circulation etc will also be digitized. At the College Geology Museum, the specimen wooden racks are proposed to be replaced by glass racks besides taking up some immediate repair works. For sensitization of the community in general and students in particular of significance of historic and cultural implication of heritage structures in J & K, tours and visits of the students to the existing heritage sites, identification of new sites and their documentation will be carried out.

Even as the official `Heritage Status’ to GGM Science College is hoped to ensure better preservation of what already exists and addition of what is need of the hour, the amount approved by the UGC is not sufficient enough for the required initiatives. Ironically, no money has been sanctioned for the restoration and maintenance of this more than 100 year old heritage structure, which requires some immediate repairs and renovation with the help of technical experts.

“We will take up this urgent issue with the UGC and submit a representation in this regard after consultation with concerned agencies so that restoration and maintenance of the heritage building of this college is aided,” said Dr Satinder Singh, Principal of GGM Science College.

How GGM College was conceived ?

Vinod Malhotra , How GGM College was conceived ? "Daily Excelsior" 20/3/2016

Maharaja Pratap Singh (1885-1925 AD), the then ruler of J&K State decided that Jammu be educationally brought at par with Srinagar city where Sh Pratap Hindu College was already functioning. Jammu province had no Degree College (before 1905 AD) at that time.

Thus the first Degree College in Jammu province started functioning on 20.4.1907 in a building which was known as Ajaibghar (now Legislative Assembly complex in Civil Sectt) Ajaibghar was built during Maharaja Ranbir Singh rule (1856-1885 AD) for stay of Prince of Wales, the heir-apparent of Queen Victoria of England, who visited Jammu city for two days. (Later on the same Prince of Wales become ‘ King Emperor George the V of England in 1910). As such this Degree College was named as Prince of Wales College. But the starting of college in Ajaibghar was a purely temporary arrangement as Maharaja Pratap Singh had a grand vision to build a college in Jammu city which should stand out as a centre of excellence in North undivided India at that time.

After many thoughtful delebrations, a site measuring 65 acres of open land located by the side of Tawi river and Ranbir Canal was selected to develop a new campus for college. Site selection was based on three factors (a) Pedestrian proximity to core Jammu city which in those days was mostly limited in size and located on a plateau which we now call old Jammu city (b) The site should offer environmentally clean, quite and open/green atmosphere condusive for studies & spots (c) Water from Ranbir Canal could be tapped through gravity to irrigate playgrounds & other landscaped areas to upkeep its greenery (The water channel built for this purpose has since vanished under encroachment).

After finalizng the site selection, Maharaja Pratap Singh wanted a very good Architect to be engaged for designing the new campus of Prince of Wales College, The then State administration got in touch with Sirdar Sahib Ram Singh, the then Vice Principal of Mayo College of Art, Rajasthan, for help in preparing design of new college Campus in Jammu but he did’nt give any positive response (Mayo College was famous for its campus and educational standard in entire country during those days). So after an elaborate search at national level, Sir Swinton Jacob, an Englishman, who was at that time based in Jaipur city was finally selected for this job by the then State Govt Maharaja Pratap Singh himself opposed his engagement vide order No. 1445 dated 7.8.1907. Sir Jacob by qualification was a civil engineer but he had vast exerience in designing institutional buildings/cantonment areas for Britishers in India. He prepared the drawings and submitted the same to State Govt. Based on these designs, the then State Engineer estimated the total cost of proposed buildings as Rs 4.53 Lakhs. Sir Swinton Jacob was paid a professional fee & Rs 10,426 calculated @ 2½ percent of total estimated cost. The designer had proposed construction of ornamental exterior walls in clay bricks and till date these brick walls are in good condition even after 107 yrs of their construction (It speaks high of the quality of construction materials and craftmanship in appreciation of the design prepared by Sir Jacob, the State Govt felt that the cost (Rs 4.53 lakhs) required for construction of proposed buildings was high.

Meanwhile, a team comprising of three Englishmen namely AC Wooler, JCR Ewing and B Movat Jones from Punjab University (with H/Q at Lahore) visited Jammu as part of their inspection of affiliated colleges. The strength of students was just 84 No. when this team visited Prince of Wales College operating from Ajaibghar on 14.1.1910. Their final report had following recommendations in order of preferance.

(i) The team felt that Sh Pratap Hindu College already functional at Srinagar be further strengthened and made more efficient. The Committee reported that maintainence of first two grade colleges in J&K State and likely to burden the State Govt.

(ii) Permanent occupation and modification of Ajaibghar building to make it more suitable for college. (iii) Their last and least preferance was for construction of new College Complex over 65 acre site selected by State Govt. The Committee, however, felt that in case State Govt was very keen, the new Campus should be of much smaller size. Their apprehensions were that new campus as per Sir Jacob’s design, would require a huge sum of Rs 5.38 lakhs which was difficult to be arranged by State Govt.Besides the committee felt that the construction will take 10 yrs to complete with an anticipated escalated expenditure of Rs 8.00 lakhs. In essence this committee didn’t favourably support State Govt’s plan to build a grand new campus for Prince of Wales College in Jammu city.

This report was very disturbing for Maharaja Pratap Singh who wanted a Degree College to come up in Jammu at any cost. Rubblishing the Inspection Committee’s report, the State Govt asked the then Divisional Engineer with State PWD to suitably amend the design of College complex submitted by Sir Swinton Jacob so as to reduce the total costs. The Divisional Engineer undertook this exercise and prepared revised designs. The estimated cost of construction under this design was brought down to Rs .1.21 lakhs only (In all probability the revised design reduced total floor area but perhaps didn’t alter substantially the architectural facade features of the design by Sir Swinton).

Maharaja Pratap Singh appreciated the new designs and conveyed his appreciation to Divisional Engineer Rai Sahib Saligram with a promise to reward him later at an appreciate time. The construction work of college was alloted to Mr R S Raghunanda and Mr Daulat Ram for Rs 1,15,840. (Mr Raghunandan had retired as Sub-Divisional Engineer from State Govt and had constructed a palace building at Kapurthala (Punjab) under a renowned Engineer Mr Bounden. Maharaja Pratap Singh approved the allotment of this work with remarks that entry road to campus (from Jewel Canal road) should be wide enough for two carriages to pass through atleast. He also sanctioned Rs 13,613 for entry road with profuse tree plantation.

The construction work of this college complex took about three years and Prince of Wales Degree College shifted from Aajibghar to its new campus (Now called GGM Science College) on 18.9.1912 and was affiliated to Lahore University before partition. It rose to great heights of excellence and has produced many lumanaries who have excelled in various fields of public life.

This prestigious college thus came into being through a grand vision of Maharaja Pratap Singh and is an important heritage treasure of Jammu city. Its heritage character needs to be protected at all costs and any addiction/renovation within this complex should be undertaken very sensitively and carefully under a well thoughtout Master Plan which should lay priority on its conservation and green landscape. Unfortunately, the college campus at present is facing severe problems because of a) frequent flooding within it on account of overflowing garbage-laden Jewel nallah during rains b) misuse of front old hockey & cricket grounds under parking and c) addition of new buildings in an unintegrated, disjointed and piecemeal manner and without any matching architectural façade control in line with old heritage structures etc. These need to be addressed urgently by the authorities concerned.

(Information given in this article has been collected from the original files, pertaining to Maharaja Pratap Singh’s rule period, lying in J&K Archives Deptt. The writer is thankful to Archives Deptt for providing access to them)

(The author is former Development Commissioner, Town Planning J&K Government)

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