The Archeological Survey of India (ASI), the custodian of heritage monuments, plans to carry out commercial activity by way of ‘fish farming’ at the lake outside Purana Qila.
The move has drawn flak from heritage activists as no commercial activity is allowed inside or within 100 metres of any protected monument.
On Tuesday, ASI’s Delhi circle floated Expression of Interest for “giving the lake near Purana Qila for fish farming for three years from the date of contract”.
The lake, spread over 6.106 acres, is located on the northwestern edge of the Purana Qila at the junction of Mathura Road and Bhairon Marg. The land and development officer had transferred this to the ASI on October 21, 2003.
A boating facility run by Delhi Tourism is a popular attraction for tourists round the year. The India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) runs a sound-and-light show inside the Purana Qila premises. However, these are value addition for tourists. As against that, the ‘fish farming’ is a purely commercial venture.
Said an ASI official involved in the process, “The concept is at a very primary stage and nothing has been finalised as yet. But the whole purpose (for fish farming) is to generate additional revenue so that monuments become self-sustainable.”
Lawyer-activist Usha Kumar lambasted the agency, “How can the ASI carry out any commercial activity in-and-around any protected monument?”
“In the famous case of ‘Wasim Ahmed Saeed versus Union of India 2004’, the Supreme Court had upheld ASI’s plea of not allowing any commercial shops within 100 metres of Fatehpur Sikri, a protected monument near Agra,” Kumar added.
In fact, not just in Fatehpur Sikri or at Agra, the ASI has been removing commercial establishments from near its monuments here in Delhi too.
The agency in 2010 had carried out a massive encroachment removal-cum-demolition drive on the western edge of Red Fort, a World Heritage Site.
Moreover, the Delhi circle of ASI has not kept the headquarters in loop for these plans. BR Mani, the ASI spokesperson, said, “We are not aware of any plans about fishing contract at the Purana Qila lake.”