In contravention of an amendment to the Archaeological Act, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), using councillors’ funds, has begun construction of a gate in front of the historic Ajmeri Gate in central Delhi.
Three concrete pillars, one each on both sides of the road and the third on the central verge, have already been constructed (to a height of 20-25 feet) on the road leading from Kamla market to the Walled City.
The construction work is being carried out to the south of the Ajmeri Gate monument. Another Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monument, Ghaziuddin Khan’s tomb, is located inside the Anglo-Arabic School , a little to the west of Ajmeri Gate.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 bans any construction, even by the government, within 100 metres in all directions of a protected monument. Only the National Monument Authority (NMA), created following the amendment last year, can clear any application for the same.
The MCD plans to construct a gate using these three pillars at a cost of Rs 5,99,500 out of the councillors’ funds.
No permission was sought either from the ASI, Delhi office or from Delhi ‘s competent authority which recommends the application to NMA. ASI officials remained unavailable for comment. When HT mailed queries to the MCD, it immediately stopped work. Deep Mathur, MCD’s director (press and information),said: “As soon as it came to the notice of senior officers that the structure falls with 100m of the protected monument, the work was stopped.”
Krishan Murari Jatav, the councillor funding the work, defended the proposed gate, saying it is neither his private work nor for commercial purpose. “For a person coming out of New Delhi railway station, there is absolutely no way to
guide him to the famed Walled City — Shahjahanabad. I am only helping the cause of heritage,” he said.
Jatav said the gate would have ‘Dilli Ka Pracheen Aitihaasik Shehar: Shahjahanabad’ written in Hindi and Urdu.
“If this is not allowed, we can always convert the pillars into directional posts,” he added.