On March 5, the “country’s tallest” flag was installed at the Indo-Pak Attari Border, just a stone’s throw away from Pakistan.

At a staggering height of 360-feet – as tall as a 30-storey building – the tricolour was hoisted with much fanfare.

Yeah, it was the same flag over which Pakistan raised an alarm about because, apparently, it was visible from Lahore and could be used for “spying”.

But since its inauguration, authorities responsible for the flag’s upkeep have been shelling out money to repair it repeatedly. The flag keeps getting damaged and is all set to be replaced for the fourth time, reports Hindustan Times.

The reason? At such a height, the flag is exposed to high wind speed and extreme weather conditions an the material used isn’t suitable to withstand the onslaught.

How much money has been spent on the installation and upkeep?

As per reports, mounting the flag cost a whopping Rs 3.5 crore to the Punjab government. It’s a project of the government’s Amritsar Improvement Trust Authority.

The same time, another flag was mounted at a public park in Ranjit Avenue on Amritsar Bypass at 170 feet. Suffering from the same problem, this flag will be replaced for the 14th time.

Both these flags have cost AIT Rs 15 lakh in repair. And with the latest mishap, the AIT will be spending Rs 1.5 lakh yet again for the Wagah border flag and Rs 65,000 for the Ranjit Avenue flag, as per Hindustan Times.

‘I call it a crime and an insult to national flag’

The plan to launch a flag of this height was a brainchild of former Punjab minister Anil Joshi and was part of the Border Security Force’s plans to increase visitors at the iconic Retreat ceremony.

“There is an intense atmosphere of patriotism during the Retreat ceremony, and the crowds are highly charged. The flag will serve as a beacon for them,” Ashok Kumar Yadav, the officiating Inspector General of BSF’s Punjab Frontier, had told Indian Express in April last year.

At that time, the officials had said that special thought would be given to the material of the flag but clearly, this has not been the case. 

In fact, Amritsar Improvement Trust chairman Suresh Mahajan has complained about it. 

Mahajan told Hindustan Times: “People behind installing the flags should have examined the flag material as is failing to withstand the wind flow.”

He added, “Both these flags have set new standards in cost and the patriotism cost is just too high here.” 

Mahajan minced no words when he told The Times of India, “I call it a crime and an insult to national flag which requires to be probed and responsibilities should be fixed against the persons involved with flag project.”

Attari flag part of the tallest tag race?

The Wagah border flag was conceived as the tallest flag in India and was aimed at beating the record of the 293-feet-high mast in Jharkhand’s Ranchi which, incidentally, has been facing a similar problem. 

And why this race for ridiculously tall flags? As per member of Parliament Naveen Jindal, who runs Flag Foundation of India, the idea of monumental flags in India came from Rahul Gandhi

Jindal told Telegraph that it was after Gandhi’s proposed the idea that he installed the tallest flag (207 feet) in India in Delhi’s Connaught Place in March, 2014.

The flag kick-started a race across India. Akhilesh Yadav followed it up with another 207-feet flag in Lucknow in October 2015. Next was Telangana’s chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao who installed a nearly 291-feet flag on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake in Sanjeevaiah Park. Similar flags have come up in Faridabad, Raipur and Bhopal as well. 

The Human Resource Ministry headed by Smriti Irani agreed to a proposal of a national flag atop a 207-ft tall mast on the campuses of all 46 Central Universities last February.

But time and again, reports of the flag being damaged and forced to fly at half-mast have been surfacing.

The question now is, with the evidently poor planning in mounting these flags and the exorbitant high costs involved, is the entire exercise worth it?