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Saturday, 15 September 2012

KG Marg parking hits fresh hurdle

TNN | Sep 15, 2012, 05.32AM IST

NEW DELHI: The KG Marg multilevel parking project, which has been waiting for the green signal from National Monuments Authority (NMA) for almost a year, has hit another hurdle. NMA had asked New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and private concessionaire DS Constructions to commission a heritage impact assessment report due to the site's proximity to 13th-century Agrasen ki Baoli and recommended Intach Delhi chapter for the task. However, after Intach said no such report was required, NMA now wants to review the project. 

Intach has been entrusted with the task of preparing heritage bylaws by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for all protected monuments according to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010. "The heritage bylaws will take into account the impact assessment report, so there is no need to commission a separate report. From our side, we have sent a proposal to ASI that we will prepare the heritage bylaws for all 174 monuments within a year, and we are preparing bylaws for monuments like Agrasen ki Baoli on priority . But it is up to ASI and NMA to notify the bylaws," said Intach convener A G K Menon. 

NMA member-secretary Praveen Srivastava said the project would be reviewed after the concessionaire comes back to the Authority with Intach's response. "The 2010 Act mandates that all projects of over Rs 20 crore need to have an assessment report. This is a large project and has to be reviewed . NOCs have been granted to some projects on a case-by-case basis, but the only large public project approved was Northern Railway's bridge project after it got the assessment report cleared," said an official. 

The delay in NMA's approval , the private concessionaire claims, is adding to the cost of the project. NDMC had given the contract to DSC in December 2007. The work was put on hold following objections from ASI. "After getting approval from all the agencies concerned, we had applied for approval from ASI in February 2010. Since then, we have been just waiting. From the height of the parking lot to its facade , we have incorporated all the suggestions made by ASI and NMA. This parking site is mentioned in Master Plan of Delhi 2021, then why delay the project?" asked an NDMC official. 

Sources say the entire process is stuck in unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. "There are so many highrises in this area. This parking is not even visible from the main road. There is a need to simplify the procedure, so that private firms don't face any difficulty in taking up project on built-operate-transfer ( BOT) basis,'' said an official with DS Constructions. 

Those who work at KG Marg, too, want the work to start soon. "Ever since the site was dug up for the project, parking has been a serious problem in the area. We have to park in CP and other neighbouring areas and walk all the way to our office. The government should expedite the work," said Rajeev Shekhar, a professional. 

The site at KG Marg is one of the three areas identified for multilevel parking projects under the master plan, which came into effect in February 2007 in NDMC areas. Before the site was dug up two years ago, it served as a makeshift parking. With the project yet to take off, office-goers in the area are running out of patience. 

Times View 

It is absurd that a much needed infrastructure project like the proposed multilevel parking should be stuck in red tape almost five years after it was officially sanctioned. On the face of it, the argument that the parking lot could pose a threat to the 13th-century baoli seems stretched. It is not as if it is in the immediate vicinity of the monument or that the area around the monument is currently not built up. On the contrary, the area is full of multi-storeyed buildings which have been there for decades. How would one more building several hundred metres away from the monument pose such a grave threat? 

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