Heritage experts say amended monuments law will ruin Delhi monuments
Heritage enthusiasts and conservators have said that the amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMSAR) Act would open floodgates for illegal constructions near themdelhi Updated: Jan 03, 2018 23:58 IST
Heritage enthusiasts and conservators have said that the amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMSAR) Act would open floodgates for illegal constructions near them.
The Lok Sabha passed amendments to the law on Tuesday, allowing construction of the Centre-approved public infrastructure projects proposed within the 100-metre radius of Archeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monuments.
Swapna Liddle, convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said the restricted zone around monuments should be sacrosanct. “Once the relaxation is official, I fear that violation of the regulated areas will become the rule rather than exception. Infrastructure projects are intrinsically the most intrusive and damaging — from the point of aesthetics as well as any other impacts,” she said.
AGK Memon, conservator and urban planner, termed the decision as ‘failure’ of planners and administration.
“It happens when development is the priority. It shows that the planners and administrators are not willing to do necessary work and make efforts. The permission will become an excuse to destroy structural heritage if option like this is available,” he said.
Disapproving of amendments, Menon said the decision is complete disregard to country’s inheritance.
“The weakest of all has to sacrifice, and in this case it is the monuments. The original Act, prohibiting any construction around 100 metres of a historical building, was passed in 2010. It was one of the few laws, which was cleared without any objections,” he said.
Union minister Mahesh Sharma told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the decision would pave the way for several stalled development projects, including expansion of Metro rails and roads and bridges across the country in restricted zones.
In Delhi, the rule has affected significant projects such as multilevel parking at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and a tunnel linking National Highway 24 (Nizamuddin Bridge) and Lodi Road.
Recently, the Public Work Department (PWD) had to redesign its 1.1km Mathura Road-Ring Road underpass cutting through Pragati Maidan as the project was too close to Purana Quila and Sher Shah Suri Gate near Delhi High Court.
The realignment has resulted into dispute between the PWD and National Sports Club of India (NSCI) as the agency requires nearly two acres land, which is part of club premises, for the construction.
Elated with the changes introduced to the law, the club on Wednesday said it would approach the PWD to rework its plan because the design was changed due to restriction in the act.
“Tunnel, which was originally constructed at Mathura Road --Bhairon Road junction, now planned at Purana Qila Road signal near gate no 5 of Pragati Maidan. It will not resolve traffic congestion on the stretch because choke point is Mathura Road--Bhairon Road junction. We will move the Delhi High Court if required,” said Neel Kant Bakshi, honorary general secretary of NSCI.