Is the safety of heritage monuments in the Capital more important or expanding the Metro rail network in violation of the stringent rules of the Archeological Survey of India, which protects them?
This is the tough call the central and Delhi governments are expected to take when the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) presents a proposal to build a 7-km underground line running close to many heritage monuments, including the Red Fort.
The proposal is to be presented to the Planning Commission by the middle of this month. The extension is being proposed for the underground lines connecting Central Secretariat with Kashmere Gate via Janpath, Mandi House, ITO, Delhi Gate and Red Fort. “This should be treated as utility work and there should not be any major objections from ASI. Minor modifications can be made but there is hardly any scope to go for major changes in the proposed alignment,” said Kumar Keshav, director (projects) of DMRC.
"We tried to keep the line away from major heritage properties wherever possible. But in some places, the line might have gone close to them,” he said.
The ASI, however, has a different take on the issue. ASI director (monuments) AK Sinha said: “The entire stretch would be examined to see whether it violates the law.”
Extension of this metro line has become the need of the hour for several reasons including decongesting Rajiv Chowk by channelising Noida-bound traffic directly from Central Secretariat through Mandi House and making chaotic Old Delhi areas accessible to people.