After saying it might have to demolish a part of a notified heritage building as part of its proposed alignment of a new Metro section between Central Secretariat and Kashmere Gate, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is on a course-correction mode.
Now, DMRC plans to not touch Bahawalpur House, near Mandi House, and might re-think the other portions of its proposed line which runs right through a heritage corridor. Sources in DMRC said: "There might be some changes in the line connecting Central Secretariat and Kashmere Gate. Monuments and heritage properties would be kept away from the line as much as possible."
Said DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal, “Keeping the heritage status of the Bahawalpur House in mind, the new alignment would go without touching the building.”
AGK Menon, member of the Heritage Conservation Committee, welcoming the new development, said: “This would be wonderful for future development of the Metro line and also for the conservation of heritage structures and evidence of the fact that heritage conservation and development are not opposed to each other.”
The new line, as proposed by the DMRC, connects Central Secretariat with Kashmere Gate via Janpath, Mandi House, ITO, Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid and Red Fort. Most of the stretch, albeit underground, is a route dotted with not just ASI-protected properties, but also has more than a dozen listed heritage buildings.
However, an amendment last year in the archaeological act prohibits even the government from undertaking any project within 100m of a monument under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The amendment in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites & Remains Act (Amendment and Validation) makes it mandatory that a competent authority weighs the proposal in relation to heritage specific by-laws and forwards it to the National Monument Authority (NMA). Senior officials from the culture ministry claim the NMA is likely to be formed by mid-March.
The proposed Metro stretch has important monuments like Delhi Gate, Khooni Darwaza, Jama Masjid on the route and Jantar Mantar and Agrasen Ki Baoli near the alignment. There are listed heritage buildings on the route as well. The DMRC had submitted a map of the proposed alignment to the ASI.