Amid growing clamour by Resident Welfare Associations against the ‘harsh’ provisions of the archaeological act — that bans construction within 100 metres of a protected monument — the Delhi government is contemplating an ‘exclusive for Delhi’ change in the law.
Properties in several plush colonies, especially in south Delhi areas such as South Extension I and II, Green Park, Panchsheel Enclave, Safdarjung Enclave and Malviya Nagar have been severely affected since the amendment in March 2010 (See box).
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit told HT, "We are contemplating steps for it. There can either be an amendment (to the existing law) or a new law specially for Delhi."
The government is in the process of identifying known monuments to work out modalities. "There are 147 known prominent monuments. Most of the colonies affected are around these monuments," Dikshit said adding, "We will either do (it) ourselves or write to the Centre for it (bringing in the change)."
Meanwhile, Delhi residents, whose houses are located near ASI-protected monuments, are having a tough time as permissions for construction in regulated areas have been put on hold and property rates for those in the prohibited area are headed south.
RK Jain’s house (N-1, Green Park main) is just 68metres from Biran Ka Gumbad.
After buying it in 2003 and pulling down the old structure, ASI denied him permission for re-construction.
He went ahead, prompting a notice by ASI.
"If the government is really interested in preserving heritage, let it take over our properties and pay us adequate compensation," Jain said.
Representatives of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) have already submitted a memorandum to Sheila Dikshit in this regard.
Said Pankaj Agrawal, general secretary of the RWA Joint Front, "South Delhi colonies affected by the amendment were planned and developed by the DDA. These should be kept out of such amendment."