The National Monument Authority (NMA) has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out trial trenching along Delhi Metro’s underground corridor from Central Secretariat to Kashmere Gate.
Trial trenching is important here because the under-construction Central Secretariat-Janpath-Mandi House-ITO-Red Fort-Kashmere Gate corridor runs below several protected monuments and also within 100 metres in slanting direction of some others.
Trial trenching is digging at a particular spot up to a depth — different for different sites — where natural soil of the area can be reached. It helps to ascertain the presence of any man-made structures below the ground level.
Apart from “trial trenching” along the corridor near monuments, “we have also formed a group of officers from NMA, ASI and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to carry out segment-wise study of the corridor,” said Pravin Shrivastava, NMA’s member secretary.
ASI’s Delhi circle chief DN Dimri said, “The sites/spots for trial trenching would be decided after joint inspection by the group of officers. However, the actual decision about trial trenching would be referred to the ASI headquarters as the excavation branch can do this.”
Incidentally, the decision was taken about a week before the remains of Akbarabadi mosque were unearthed on Thursday at a site that was identified by the Delhi Metro for the Jama Masjid station on this corridor.
The DMRC has already shifted the site for the station.
The underground alignment passes a few metres below the Khooni Darwaja and Delhi Gate and within 100 metres below the ground in slanted direction of other ASI-protected monuments such as the Sunehari Masjid.
Called the “prohibited area”, there can be no construction within 100 metres in all directions, as per an amendment in the Archaeological Act in 2010. The question is, whether “in all directions” is only on surface or below the ground, too.