Lack of maps that clearly define the area around protected monuments where construction is either banned or regulated continue to create confusion among government agencies, developers and property owners.
For example, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had sold its plots in Saket district centre to mall developers with great fanfare, only to have the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) slap notices on the developers for carrying out construction in the vicinity of a protected monument. The malls nearing completion are located near the Khirkee mosque just across the road.
Had there been maps indicating where construction is banned, such a problem might not have arisen. Conservationists and planners say maps
marking 100m and 300m radii around protected monuments should be made available. Officials in the ASI admit such maps are not there.
"We carry out site surveys and demarcation to determine the distance of buildings from monuments and action is taken accordingly, so there is no question of ambiguity," an ASI official said, while conceding there are no maps available to the general public that can help them determine the distance of their property from protected monuments.
When asked about the Saket district centre, officials in the office of the DDA vice-chairman said the matter was being pursued with the Director-General, ASI. As for delineating the restricted zone around heritage monuments, DDA officials say the ASI had to take the call and that DDA was "ready to co-ordinate and implement the decisions taken by the ASI in this regard."
Experts say the general public can be expected to follow the rule only if information is put in the public domain. Prof AGK Menon, convenor of the Delhi Chapter of INTACH, said even engineers in local bodies were often not aware whether building approvals they have to give were subject to ASI rules that prohibit construction within 100m and restrict construction within 300m.
KT Ravindran, Dean of the School of Planning and Architecture, said ‘GIS’ maps of Delhi can be easily used to show the restricted areas around monuments and identify boundaries with great accuracy. "At present, many developers and property owners even feign ignorance of the law and try to get away. With aerial photos, accurate maps can be generated that will make it easier for the ASI also," Prof Ravindran said.