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Friday, 6 July 2012

National Monuments Authority nod to new bridge near Salimgarh Fort

by Richi VermaRichi Verma, TNN | Jun 25, 2012,

NEW DELHI: Northern Railway's plan to build a new bridge near world heritage site Salimgarh Fort will take off after being held up for almost a decade. This will be the first public project in Delhi to get a no objection certificate (NOC) from the National Monuments Authority (NMA).

The authority gave the railways the go-ahead taking into consideration the heritage value of the old iron bridge. It said the rail portion of the old bridge should be preserved as a museum.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Northern Railway got embroiled in a long-drawn battle as work on the new bridge would have caused damage to portions of the Salimgarh Fort. The project was given approval only after the bridge was realigned to ensure that construction took place outside the 100m prohibited zone.

Railways sought ASI's permission to build a new bridge in place of the 150-year-old iron bridge connecting Shahdara and the Old Delhi railway station. However, ASI refused permission as construction of the proposed bridge involved demolition of a portion of the ancient fort. The railways was asked for a revised plan. In the meantime, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, was passed and National Monuments Authority came into being— which would now grant permission.

By this time, railways had a heritage impact assessment report prepared by Intach, which also proposed an alternative alignment in which the rail track through Salimgarh Fort would be diverted to north, passing over Yamuna through the new bridge. The diversion, which was outside 100m radius of the monument, would have ensured that the new construction was in regulated zone. "The construction will now be carried out 30m upstream, parallel to the existing road-cum-rail bridges over the Yamuna,'' said an official.

"The new plan is in line with the Act as construction would take place outside the 100m prohibited zone; the heritage impact assessment report also supported the plan,'' said an NMA source.

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