Garbage knocking on heritage’s door | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Garbage knocking on heritage’s door

Residents upends its pail in the backyard of a 14th century mosque and overruns the quiet majesty of Delhi’s longest fort, reports Nivedita Khandekar.

delhi Updated: Sep 24, 2009 00:34 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Nestled between the plush south Delhi neighbourhood of Sarvapriya Vihar and the urban village of Begumpur, Begumpur Mzosque is an example of how the present usurps the past.

A walk through the sunlit compound, with broken domes topping the elegant, square gallery is something of a transporting experience…till you run into an iron gate to a verandah.

Heaped on the other side is a pile of stinking garbage.

Residents of the area treat the large verandah of the mosque as their personalized recreation spot, or worse, dumping ground.

Locals laze around on a sunny winter morning, fly kites and calmly upend their garbage bins in the courtyard of this 14th century heritage monument.

Beleaguered fort

Not far away from the Begumpur mosque is the Capital's longest citadel: the qila of Tughlaq, better known as the Tughlaqabad fort. Like the Begumpur mosque, the wall of the fort—that runs along the Mehrauli-Badarpur road in South Delhi—possesses an evocative beauty.

But inside unfolds a different story.

This early 14th century citadel, built by Tughlaq dynasty founder Ghias Ud Din Tughlaq is one of the worst encroached monuments in Capital. Three roads hack the compound into separate portions. A mini-settlement has mushroomed in each area.

The extent of the encroachment can be imagined by the fact that inside the second portion, there is more than 100 bigha land categorized as lal dora land, on which construction is not allowed.

"Another 2,500 plus bighas of land is crowded by unauthorized houses," say sources.

Although, a city existed inside its premises when the fort was originally built, the present encroachment is a gift of the late 20th century.

"When Jagmohan was the Minister (of Culture), he ensured much of the encroachment was removed in 2001-02. However, nothing has been done after that," ASI sources said.

When questioned about the encroachment, ASI chief K.K. Mohammad said: "Yes, we are aware of the problem and we are coordinating with various agencies for removal of encroachment."

In April 2005, the Delhi High Court asked the Delhi government to appoint a Committee to look into and initiate action against encroachment at various heritage monuments.