Two years after it was announced, the Delhi Metro's controversial heritage line connecting Kashmere Gate with Central Secretariat has finally received the go-ahead from the National Monuments Authority (NMA) with certain conditions.
A number of heritage structures fall on this corridor.
Work for this line - which the Metro started in 2011 - will take place under a monitoring committee comprising officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the NMA.
While ensuring that there is no construction within 100 metres of any protected monument - called the prohibited area, no new construction within 100 metres is allowed as per a 2010 amendment in the archaeological act - the NMA's green light can mean that the DMRC can now look forward to complete its Phase Three line covering Central Secretariat-Janpath-Mandi House-ITO-Delhi Gate-Jama Masjid-Red Fort-Kashmere Gate on time.
"We have granted a no-objection certificate to the DMRC for this line with certain conditions," said a senior NMA official.
The conditions include formation of a monitoring committee and a Delhi Metro-funded archaeological study, to be carried out by the ASI, along the alignment.
"We have asked the DMRC to install equipment at all major monuments to measure vibrations and monitor the impact on the heritage structures," the official said.
This NOC can also pave the way for similar situations for several other lines/stations under Phase Three, including another station near INA market and a proposed station near Nizamuddin in the vicinity of heritage monuments.
Ever since it got the proposal, the NMA had been going through all aspects and asked for different studies.
The DMRC was asked to submit a structural impact assessment report and also a heritage impact assessment report, done by the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA).
"The SPA report addressed most of our concerns. It put in place norms and defined how the work should progress. The DMRC has also made lot of commitments," said Meera Dass, an NMA member.
However, the NOC comes in the absence of monument-specific heritage bye laws, regulatory guidelines for any development work around monuments. The NMA has given the green light subject to finalisation of the heritage byelaws along this line.
The DMRC has also been asked to set up an interpretation centre and fund work for improvement of areas around the monuments.