Heritage and transport experts have raised questions about the utility of the multi-level parking project near Kasturba Gandhi Marg, pending for over two years, and also warned about the depleting water table in the area, which lies near the Ugrasen ki Baoli.
The National Monument Authority (NMA) has asked the private concessionaire to get a heritage impact assessment done for the project as it falls within the regulated area (101-300 metres) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected baoli, a traditional water harvesting system.
Heritage experts pointed out that the water table in the area has continuously decreased over the decades, especially in the past 20 years due to several big-ticket infrastructure projects in the area.Yet another project in the catchment area of the baoli will further create problems, they said.
Recalling the time during late 1960s and early ’70s when sub-surface water had to be pumped out from several areas under New Delhi Municipal Council, AK Jain, a heritage expert and author of the book Lutyen’s Delhi said, “There is a need for a comprehensive study of such projects on ground water.”
The baoli needs to be restored and revived, Jain said adding, “In present conditions, rainwater does not reach it anymore. The entire catchment is concretised."
Traffic and transport experts said that in view of the fact that other multi-level parking projects near Connaught Place remain highly underutilised, the need is to objectively think whether or not another such project is needed.
PK Sarkar, transport expert from the School of Planning and Architecture said, "There is the state government policy of promotion of mass public transport. In view of the holistic scenario vis-à-vis the emergence of Rajiv Chowk metro station as a major hub to reach Connaught Place, we may not need large scale parking projects."
Sarkar said that the multi-level parking, if at all it comes up, may pose problems for disbursal of vehicles as the approach roads are too narrow.
In the meanwhile, since the work was stopped after March 2010 amendment in the archaeological act, officials of the DSC Ltd, the private concessionaire, said, they got in touch with conservation NGO INTACH.
"INTACH told us that the heritage bye-laws for the Baoli will take care of the issue and there is no need for heritage impact assessment," DSC officials said.
However, a senior NMA official countered, "INTACH is preparing heritage byelaws but it cannot decide if this report is needed or not. We have not yet heard from the private party."
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 2010 bans any new construction within 0-100 metres (prohibited area) of a centrally protected monument and puts several restrictions on construction within 101-300 metres (regulated area).