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New building cloud over Purana Qila

Can the government break its own law? It will, if the Ministry of Environment and Forest gets a go ahead to construct a museum near Purana Qila.

delhi Updated: May 27, 2009 00:25 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Can the government break its own law? It will, if the Ministry of Environment and Forest gets a go ahead to construct a museum near Purana Qila.

The Ministry, which has been asked to vacate the current building housing the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) at FICCI premises on Barakhamba Road, is on the lookout for a new place. And it has set its eyes on the 7.86-acre plot used for parking near the ancient fort dating back to the 16th Century.

“We have identified the plot of land belonging to the National Zoological Park besides the Purana Qila,” Advisor to the Ministry Dr G.V. Subrahmanyam told HT.

“We have taken up the issue with Urban Development Ministry.”

The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) uses the piece of land for parking. “(Hence) our priority is to first restore the land to the Ministry,” Subrahmanyam said.

The law

But then, will not a new structure within 100 metres of a monument protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) violate law?

A 1992 notification prohibits any new construction within 100 metres around protected monuments while a further 200 metres is designated as regulated zone, where development is permitted only after the ASI’s approval.

“We are aware of regulations and whenever the building is built, we will abide by all the rules and take all requisite permissions and approvals from ASI and even the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC),” Subrahmanyam said.

But heritage lovers are aghast at the thought of a new concrete structure blocking the view of the Purana Qila façade.

“How can they do it? Large portion of this parking land falls within the prohibited and regulated zones,” said convenor of Delhi chapter of Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural and Heritage (INTACH), A.G.K Menon.

“There is no question of ASI giving any permission for this.”

INTACH is a nationwide non-profit organisation working for heritage conservation.

“The DUAC will also have its apprehension in building a major structure obstructing the view of a heritage monument (from the Bhairon Marg side),” Menon added.

Checkered history

Situated on Bhairon Marg, the land in question is ensconced between the National Zoological Park, the main railway line moving towards Nizamuddin Railway Station and the Bhairon temple sharing its boundary with the Purana Qila.

As HT had reported earlier (February 10, 2009), the land is already a bone of contention between the ITPO and the Delhi Zoo with both claiming the other to be an encroacher.