Spread over 100 acres and home to over 80 historically significant monuments, the Mehrauli archaeological park near Qutab Minar could soon become history. A tussle over its maintenance and years of neglect has reduced Delhi’s only heritage park into a dumpyard.
Some of the monuments in the park were built over five centuries — from the early 11th century to the late Mughal period. These include the Jamali Kamali mosque and Balban’s tomb.
Peeved over official apathy, residents of the area have decided to save the park on their own. “The area has been turned into a dumping ground. We have written to the authorities several times but after getting no response from them, we decided to start our own cleaning drive,” said Lalit Samant, a resident.
The Delhi Development Authority, which maintains the park, and the two agencies responsible for the monuments — the Archaeological Survey of India and Delhi’s department of archaeology —have been fighting over the park’s upkeep.
The DDA is still working on a rescue plan. “A meeting has been called to discuss the state of the park,” said AK Pandit, chief engineer (south zone), DDA. But experts are not convinced. “The DDA, till date, hasn’t bothered to maintain the park that has also been encroached upon,” said AJK Menon of Intach, a heritage conservation organisation.
The department of archaeology has issued a preliminary notice for declaring some of the monuments in the park protected. But so far, no preservation work has been taken up.