The Telangana government unfurled the country’s second largest tricolour in its capital Hyderabad on the occasion of the state’s second formation day. T S Sudhir, who was present at the occasion, reports
It was a moment of goose bumps, a lump in the throat and the heart skipping a beat. As the largest national flag at 72 feet by 108 feet went up in the Hyderabad sky at 10 am on June 2, the day Telangana became India's 29th and youngest state in 2014, a few hundred cell phones shot up in the air to capture the moment.
The expression on the faces of those gathered at Sanjeevaiah Park in Hyderabad said it all.
It felt good.
The effort to ensure that everything went as planned was a sight in itself. Some half a dozen flag engineers ran around the pole to ensure the tricolour went up without any hiccup, sans any unnecessary folds on the cloth. The Ashoka Chakra on top of the pole, when the flag made it to its designated position, made it picture perfect.
The flag in Hyderabad is now officially India's second tallest tricolour flying at a height of 291 feet.
Rewind a few hours into the stillness of the night of June 1 when the roads and buildings department engineers were going through some anxious moments. The flag pole was erected at the sprawling 92 acre Sanjeevaiah Park, which abuts the Hussain Sagar Lake.
The wind speeds had to be factored in. Engineers said though the wind speed around the lake has never crossed 140 km/hour, they have put enough nuts and bolts in place to ensure it could withstand speeds of up to 200 km/hour. They were confident the concrete pedestal that has gone 10 feet into the ground, would withstand sufficient wind pressure.
Then, of course, was the confusion over the height of the flag pole. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was keen on Hyderabad being home to the largest and the tallest flag in the country.
Currently, the tallest flag in India now is the tricolour at Ranchi's Pahari Mandir which stands 293 feet tall, hoisted on Republic Day this year by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar -- at exactly the same place where the British used to hang Indian freedom-fighters.
KCR wanted the 92-kg-heavy flag to fly high at 303 feet, leading many to wonder if the reason was numerological because six (3+3) is deemed to be his lucky number. But the Airports Authority of India would have nothing of it.
The agency initially said it cannot permit the flag at a height of more than 167 feet, arguing that a flag above 300 feet will be a distraction for trainer and VIP aircraft that take off from the Hakimpet air base and Begumpet airport in the heart of the city.
What followed was a lot of back-and-forth correspondence and phone calls, with the Telangana government willing to scale it down to 295 feet. AAI still wouldn't give the no-objection certificate, pointing out that an attempt to enter the record books for the tallest national flag is pointless, given that it would be dethroned in just seven months. The Border Security Force will install a 350-feet high national flag at the Wagah border in January 2017 that will be visible from both Amritsar and Lahore.
The roads and buildings department had given the contract to Kolkata-based firm Skipper. Seven trucks had brought in long, hollow steel pipes, weighing about 50 tonnes, to the park.
They were then joined together and erected on the concrete pedestal, fitted with huge nuts and bolts to hold it the frame together. The flag post is 1.8 metres wide at the bottom and tapers to about half-a-metre at the top.
The project cost Rs 1.8 crore and the flag, made of polyester, has been brought from Mumbai. A second flag has been procured from a couple in Khammam district in Telangana -- Padma and Sanjeeva Rao, who are avid flag collectors and the only Indian members of the International Federation of Vexillological Association.
The couple has made flags of over 200 countries. This flag made by them will be on standby to take care of damage or replacement to the original one. In addition, three more flags have been ordered -- one from Mumbai and two more from the Raos.
The flag ceremony undoubtedly has been the crowning glory for Telangana, with people looking at the flag from across the Hussain Sagar Lake. The event also elevated the status of June 2 as an important date in Telangana's calendar, on par with Republic Day and Independence Day.
Sanjeevaiah Park is one of the well-maintained parks in the city, and now that it will play host to the Indian flag, it will be well-lit during the night as well, making it one of the major tourist attractions in the city.