Even as fate of the multi-level parking near Kasturba Gandhi Marg still hangs fire, water and traffic experts have reiterated the need for a relook at the project.
The parking project was stopped in April 2010 owing to an amendment in the archaeological act and due to its proximity to Ugrasen Ki Baoli, a medieval step-well at Hailey Road.
A major reason why the project is still hanging fire is the lack of heritage-related documentation, i.e. impact assessment and heritage byelaws, which was made mandatory after the amendment.As reported by Hindustan Times earlier, the Central Ground Water Board data has already shown how the water table in the area, and in the step well itself, had drastically gone down and had let the baoli go dry since 2010. "The baoli needs to be restored and revived. Rainwater does not reach it anymore and the entire catchment is concretised. Is there any need to add to the concretisation?" asked a water expert.
Traffic and transport experts too have pointed out possible problems. "In view of the fact that other multi-level parking projects near Connaught Place remain highly underutilised, the point of adding another parking project needs to be given an objective," said a traffic expert.
Meanwhile, the project is still pending clearance at the end of the National Monument Authority (NMA). The authority had asked the private concessionaire of the project to get a heritage impact assessment done as the proposed parking falls within the regulated area (101-300 metres) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected step well.
Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a conservation NGO, has been working on preparing heritage byelaws and also the heritage impact assessment. Sources said, "Our job was to ascertain whether the parking structure will affect the baoli or not. The other two things we considered were the aesthetics and the impact of the project on the water table. The parking location will not have any effect on either of the two factors."
However, ASI officials said all the things are currently in flux and nothing can be commented upon. "We have not finalised the byelaws for this," said BR Mani, ASI's joint director general and the national spokesperson.
Even NMA officials have not considered it for a final decision. Although the authority has been clearing several proposals for construction in regulated areas of other monuments, it has not taken any call on the KG Marg parking as yet. "We have not received the byelaws for it. The proposal is still pending," said Pravin Srivastava, NMA member secretary.