The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's (DMRC) proposed Central Secretariat to Kashmere Gate line passing through a heritage corridor has received a green signal from the competent authority (CA) for Delhi, formed after an amendment in the archaeological act last year.
As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, effective since March 2010, no new construction is allowed within 100 metres in all directions of a protected monument.
The CA's nod is significant in view of the fact that this is the first public transport project by the government in Delhi having a number of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected heritage monuments along/near the proposed alignment that passes via Janpath, Mandi House, ITO, Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid and Red Fort.
At several places through the entirely underground proposed corridor, either the stations, the tunnel or entry-exit points for the stations lie very near ASI-protected monuments, some within the regulated area (100-300 metres distance from the monument) while few within the prohibited area (0-100 metres from the monument).
For instance, the slanted depth of the proposed Delhi Gate underground Metro station is 30.391 metres from Khooni Darwaza while the slanted depth of the underground portion of the Kashmere Gate station from the Kashmere Gate monument is 13.51 metres.
Delhi's CA Vijay Singh submitted his recommendations to the National Monument Authority (NMA) on Monday. Stating that the proposed line will provide access to a number of heritage monuments and would lead to the revival of the walled city heritage, Singh's recommendation report further pointed that it will also provide connectivity to Lok Nayak Hospital and GB Pant Hospital. "It's utility to the people and heritage of the city cannot, therefore, be undermined," the report mentioned.
On being asked, as to how construction can be permitted within 100 metres (below ground) of a protected monument, Singh clarified, "The 100 metres restriction for construction is applicable for construction above ground only. Moreover, here we need to assess the possible impact of the tunnel boring on the heritage monuments."
However, to a question as to how would the NMA treat the 100-metre issue, Pravin Shrivastava, the authority's member secretary, said, "The proposal would be considered only when the members of the NMA are appointed." But when that will happen is uncertain.
A DMRC spokesperson said, "We would start the construction only after clearance from the group of ministers (GoM)."
While giving the nod, Singh has put several conditions that DMRC needs to fulfill within three months of the final nod by the NMA. He has asked the DMRC to ensure that "the facades of entry and exit gates are in consonance with the art and architecture of the respective nearest protected monument".