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Thursday, 10 May 2012

4 years on, monuments await protected status

Richi Verma, TNN | May 10, 2012, 12.11AM IST

NEW DELHI: In 2008, the Delhi government's archaeology department signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Delhi Chapter for conservation of 92 monuments. Four years on, the project seems to be stuck in limbo. So far, not a single monument has received final notification and 48 have made it to the preliminary notification stage. Out of these, at least 30 monuments have received objections from the public that need to be resolved. What's worse is that the three-year pact expired last year and is awaiting renewal.

The project was conceived way back in 2008 to bring the government's attention to relatively obscure monuments in the city and restored before the Commonwealth Games. Fifteen monuments, including Bara Lao Ka Gumbad and Gol Gumbad, Darwesh Shah ki Masjid were conserved and turned into prime tourist attractions and another list of monuments that needed to be protected was drawn. Bringing them under the protection of the government was important so that they receive similar attention like the 174 centrally-protected monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). However, conservationists claim that the delay in notifying these monuments is only making them more vulnerable to vandalism or encroachment. "Many of these monuments are located in congested lanes and crowded areas. They can only be protected against encroachment if they are notified as soon as possible. The delay will only exacerbate problems," said a source.

Of the 48 monuments that have received preliminary notification, many have been encroached upon and their facades have been damaged. Bagichi Ki Masjid in Mehrauli is one such example. It has been taken over by locals and painted white and green. Two Mughal-era wall mosques located in Mehrauli Archaeological Park also have been painted over.

"Notification of monuments is a long-winded procedure. Revenue details for each monument have to be verified and authenticated before the nod for final notification can be given," said a senior official. Manpower shortage in the archaeology department is another plausible reason for delay in notification. Sources in the government, however, said that the final notification would take place within the next two months after necessary approval from the LG. "We are hoping that the 48 monuments are notified soon," said a source.

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