A month after three members of the National Monument Authority (NMA) were appointed, the wait for permission regarding repairs/ construction for those living within 300-metre-radius of a protected monument is not yet over.
In fact, the wait for such permissions can stretch on for more months as more than 20 months after the amendment in its act, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has not yet started the survey for site plan for any monument in the Capital.
The site plans would enable formulation of monument-specific heritage byelaws, which in turn would help residents staying within 0-100 metres (prohibited areas), where no new construction is allowed, and 101-300 metres (regulated area) of a monument get permission for urgent repairs and construction, respectively.
Not just for Delhi monuments, the case is same for monuments across India. The NMA, which cannot function without the heritage byelaws, has considered only a few urgent cases as an exception.
Hundreds of applications for repairs/ renovations/ construction from residents near the protected monument in Delhi are pending. As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (amendment and validation) Act 2010, the ASI DG is supposed to conduct a survey or get a survey conducted in respect of all prohibited and regulated areas for detailed site plans.
Last year, the ASI had called in for expression of interest. "However, despite the fact that there were 52 companies, including the Survey of India, the process never reached a logical end," sources said.
Dr BR Mani, ASI spokesperson, said, "Earlier, there were issues about the quality of work by private parties. It has now been decided to go for the Survey of India and the work is in the final stage. They may outsource mapping/ survey work to private companies."
The culture ministry has been pushing the ASI for early byelaws. However, the ASI flatly refused and gave a curt 'no' as reply to HT's question under the Right to Information Act if there were any meetings between the ministry and ASI on the issue. An official said, "There are 3,675 monuments. At this rate, they (ASI) would not be able to prepare heritage byelaws for next 20 years or so."