Even as the historical Lal Mahal structure at Hazrat Nizamuddin was partially razed by land mafias, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) continued to drag its feet over the issue of notification of heritage buildings in the city.
A 13th century monument, Lal Mahal was listed in the heritage list of the MCD. The civic agency, however, failed to notify it, along with 767 other heritage structures for the past three years, making it vulnerable to all kind of structural damages.
According to conservationists, apart from Lal Mahal a number of other heritage structures in the MCD list have already been destroyed.
“More than 12 structures listed in the MCD list have already been demolished. If the MCD continues to sit on the list more historically significant structures will be demolished. We will take up the matter in the court as the civic agency is not preserving the heritage structures,” said A.G. Menon, member of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) and INTACH’s Delhi Convenor.
Once the civic body notifies a heritage building, it is then their responsibility to ensure protection of such sites. A series of fines can be imposed for damaging or altering any part of these structures.
While the police, ASI and the civic body have halted the illegal construction of Lal Mahal for the time being, this is not a permanent solution. Nearly 767 buildings listed by the civic body await the same fate.
“We are looking into the matter and the list will be notified soon. We are ascertaining the reasons why the list has not been notified till date,” said MCD Commissioner K.S. Mehra.
Hindustan Times had highlighted the issue of neglected heritage buildings of the city in an article published on October 8.
Fearing that other historical structures in Nizamuddin might have been damaged by its occupants, the civic body is now planning to carry out a survey of the listed structures from Sunday.
According to sources, the current owners of Lal Mahal had sold off a part of the land to be converted into a mosque. The locals in the area were quite hostile over the issue and maintained they were constructing a mosque and not a multi-storey building.
“To save themselves from any legal action, the owners are now claiming that they were constructing a mosque,” said a senior MCD official.