Seventeen years ago, the government banned all construction and mining within 100 metres of centrally protected monuments. But the law was not enforced strictly in Delhi.
Result: monuments in urban villages are now lost to sight. The Tughlaq-era (14th century) archaeological marvels, Khirki Masjid and Hauz Khas, are two glaring examples.
Regardless of the government’s order in 1992, Khirki Village in Malviya Nagar has grown tremendously.
Pointing to several buildings around the protected mosque, Parkash Sana, who claims to have lived in the village for more than 35 years, said, “I have seen these buildings change from small ones to big, posh ones.”
A few years ago, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had removed most of the encroachments from inside the mosque.
However, some issues are yet to be addressed, especially those outside the mosque building but inside its walled compound.
“We are in the process of removing the encroachment within the premises,” said KK Muhammed, ASI’s Delhi circle chief.
In Hauz Khas village, several residents open their windows on to the tomb of Firoz Shah Tughlaq and the beautiful yet decaying lake beside it.
Some locals said not all the buildings around the site had existed before 1992.
On its part, ASI issues notices to encroachers and then gets into never-ending legal tussles.
“Is it that ASI sleeps when the construction is taking place near or at the monument? Why does it send notices after the buildings are completed?” said Rikhaj Kalita (67), a regular visitor to the monuments that are surrounded by posh buildings in Hauz Khas Village.