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New lease of life for north Delhi gateways

The Tripoli Gateways, an early 18th-century structure on the Grand Trunk Road in Rana Pratap Bagh, have got a new lease of life two years after a truck crashed into them.

delhi Updated: Sep 30, 2012 23:36 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

The Tripoli Gateways, an early 18th-century structure on the Grand Trunk Road in Rana Pratap Bagh, have got a new lease of life two years after a truck crashed into them.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has begun work on the conservation of the structure that consists of north- and south-facing gates, each with three arches. A narrow passageway and poor lighting makes the area accident-prone. “Massive jams and accidents are commonplace,” Rohit Jain, a resident of the nearby Jain Colony, said.

The ASI has spent around Rs 21 lakh on the conservation. The work on the northern gate is well-nigh complete.

It had been proposed that the level of the road be lowered, so that trucks do not hit the arches. On the proposal, ASI’s Delhi circle chief DN Dimri said, “It is pending with the civic agency.”

YS Mann, director (press and information), North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said, “The work has been put out to tender. The road passing below the arches will be dug up to give a slope up to 1.5 metres.”

Commenting on the alleged controversy over the “design” element on the pillars of the structure, Dimri said: “The contractor had first done plain plaster for the walls. Now, when we insisted, the work is being done for ornamental plaster.”

Anirudh Singha of AIC Building Solutions Ltd, the contractors for the work, said, “The ASI had no original design. Moreover, we were never given anything in writing. Whatever we have done is based on the evidence available. They (ASI officials) seem to have agreed and have given a written consent now.”

Experts and ASI officials are debating whether to allow vehicular traffic to pass through it or encircle the structure with metal barricades.

Singha said, “A truck recently hit a repaired arch. If such damage continues, heavy traffic needs to be stopped before starting work for the other gateway.”

OP Jain, former convener, Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage, said, "The whole thing is more to do with city’s management of heritage. The solution has to be based on some kind of conservation rules.”

However, Jain agreed, “Trucks and heavy traffic should not be allowed. It is a question of enforcement (but) different agencies involved are not on the same page.” Dimri said: “The structure is strong, especially up to the plinth level, it is safe. So, smaller vehicles can always pass. (But) we have not earlier discussed bypass for the gates.”