If infant flyovers are being polished for the Commonwealth Games, can venerable, 700-year-old monuments be left behind?
Delhi government's department of archaeology has decided to restore 92 heritage monuments in the city that are not protected by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).
“Although we have identified as many as 250 monuments, 92 will be spruced up before the Commonwealth Games,” said Keshav Chandra, director of department of archaeology.
Delhi has over 1,200 heritage structures; the ASI protects 175 of them, which have been identified as those with national importance. It is the responsibility of the Delhi government and the civic bodies to take care of the rest of the monuments.
Chandra said the focus in the first phase would be on monuments that are either visible from the road or are near the Games venues.
The department has come up with a preliminary notification plan for 27 monuments in south Delhi.
These include, among others, the Tomb of Muhammed Quli Khan in the mehrauli archeological park, the magnificent ruins in south Delhi.
The estimated budget for restoring the 92 monuments is Rs 6 crore and the deadline is June 2010. Chandra said they would now focus on a detailed survey of the monumenst and the area around, a conservation plan, horticultural development and
lighting of the heritage structures.
But the restoration may not be a breeze.
An official who did not want to quoted, as he was not authorised to speak to the media said ownership issues are expected to crop up.
“Objections have already been raised by the Delhi Wakf Board over eight monuments in Mehrauli. We are negotiating with the body,” the official said.
These monuments will be protected under the Delhi Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act 2004 (Delhi Act 9 of 2005).
The government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Delhi chapter of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage, a non-profit pan-Indian body working for heritage conservation, for this project.