More than three weeks after the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) asked the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to stop work on a multi-level underground parking on Sher Shah Suri Marg, work continued in full steam on Tuesday.
DMRC had given an undertaking in a meeting with DUAC on February 17 to stop work and first go ahead with plans for safety of an unidentified Mughal-era tomb.
“Preparatory and mobilising work” was what the DMRC described as the deep digging and iron grid work at the site. Prompted by the possible threat to the unidentified tomb due to heavy-duty drilling and digging, the DUAC had visited the site on February 10.
Pointing out that work goes on at the site unabated, Ratish Nanda, a conservation architect and a DUAC member, said, “The parking and the access as designed will cause irreparable damage to both, a 15th century monument and the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone.”
“It is shocking that the contractors — DMRC — continue to construct illegally and despite strong reservations from NDMC and DUAC,” Nanda fumed.
DMRC officials said, “We are ready to do whatever the archaeological experts suggest for preserving and conserving the monument.”
As far as “stopping” work is considered, the DMRC officials maintained, “DUAC observations related to requirements of clearances from other bodies such as Central Vista Committee, Chief Fire Officer, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC). We already have these.”
Sources in the Heritage Conservation Committee said the project proposal that was given a go-ahead restricted to only the multi-level parking. “The proposal for underpass never came to us,” the sources added.
High Court’s Registrar General Rakesh Kapoor said, “The High Court is concerned only about NDMC’s approval and not with anybody else.”
“Once the NDMC gives permission, our contractor can go ahead. There is no need for DUAC or UTTIPEC permissions,” he added.
The Officer on Special Duty in the Lt Governor’s office, Ranjan Mukherjee, said the proposal was considered twice and given a clearance in Delhi Development Authority’s Technical Committee in May 2005 and July 2008 respectively.
An NDMC spokesperson confirmed, “The plan for the underpass is being forwarded to the UTTIPEC soon.”
But even when the proposal remains to be approved, there has been some digging going on bang in the middle of the road on Sher Shah Suri Marg.
“This work is not for underpass but for shifting utility services,” defended DMRC officials.