High-mast national flag in rough weather, literally

High-mast national flag in  rough weather, literally

The much-publicised 207-foot-high national flag, hoisted on the premises of the National Military Memorial (NMM), has run into rough weather, literally.

Strong winds and the resultant damage to the flag (48x72 feet) forced the authorities concerned to bring it down 15 days ago. The flag will not be re-hoisted any time soon, with the Hindu month of Ashada (considered inauspicious) set to begin on June 28.

“It is difficult to hoist the flag and maintain it at a height of 207 feet, because the winds are very strong and it is also not an auspicious period now. Winds are blowing at a speed of 200-300 kmph and this is damaging the flag. No material has been able to withstand this. Since the time it was hoisted, we have changed it nine times,” sources said.

The high-mast flag was first hoisted at NMM on January 23 this year to mark the celebration of the Supreme Court order dated January 23, 2005, which gives every Indian the freedom to hoist the flag in public places. There are only two such flags in India - Bangalore and Connaught Place, New Delhi.

During the inauguration, five flags were gifted to NMM: two by the Madras Engineer Group (MEG) and Centre; one by the Flag Foundation of India (FFI) and two by the Indian Navy and Air Force. The ones gifted by the Navy and the Air Force have not been used so far. The others were restitched and used on rotation all these months.

Maintaining and restitching the flags has become difficult as each flag costs Rs 48,000. Presently, all five flags are with MEG personnel, who have take upon themselves the task of repairing damaged ones and restitching unused ones, so that they withstand the winds, the sources said.

K V Singh, chief executive officer of FFI, said, “According to the Flag Code of India, it should always flutter, regardless of the weather. The month of Ashada should have nothing to do with hoisting the flag. If strong winds are an issue, the flag can be lowered, but not removed. It is very sad that the State government is not sensitive or concerned about it.”

 The NMM committee is presently under the Home ministry and the State government is searching for experts who can advise it on how the flag should be maintained. They want expert opinion on the type of material to be used and proper stitching, so that the winds do not damage the flag.

The committee is contemplating hoisting the flag only on special days like Independence Day and Republic Day, instead of all 365 days in a year.

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