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Ruins need a heritage shield

The Haryana chapter of INTACH has now begun lobbying for a legal shield for the 400-odd historical monuments scattered across Gurgaon, reports Sanjeev K Ahuja.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2007 02:44 IST

When the bulldozers flattened a Mughal monument on Monday, custodians of heritage could do little but watch in helplessness. The shock over, the Haryana chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has now begun lobbying for a legal shield for the 400-odd historical monuments scattered across Gurgaon.

INTACH had restored Dhauli Pyau, the 18th century monument on MG Road, which was earlier demolished in a land acquisition drive by the Haryana Urban Development Authority.

“We want a legislation under which state agencies such as HUDA as well as private owners of historical monuments will have to get prior permission from a specially constituted heritage committee before altering the shape of any historical structure. This way, even monuments not protected by the Archaeological Survey of India will be safe,” said R.L. Bawa, state convener of INTACH’s Haryana chapter.

HUDA had gone ahead with the demolition of Dhauli Pyau as it was not on the ASI’s list of protected monuments.

The task is difficult, Bawa admits. The Haryana government will have to be convinced to insert heritage clauses in various town and country planning acts of the state and form a heritage committee. States like Maharashtra have shown the way. The state government there has provided a legal shield for heritage structures in Mumbai, while the Andhra Pradesh government has done the same for Hyderabad. Punjab has a heritage shield for the entire state.

“We have requested the Haryana government for such a law before. But the response was poor. Now we are going to take it up again with Haryana chief secretary Prem Prashant,” Bawa said.

INTACH has already listed about 400 historical monuments in Gurgaon and Mewat as well as in other districts of the state. These include Kurukshetra, Ambala, Kaithal and Mahendergarh.

Shikha Jain, co-convener of INTACH (Haryana chapter), pointed out that the NCR planning board in its Regional Plan 2021 had also strongly recommended that Master/Zonal plans of towns and districts should identify the protected and listed monuments in the region.

“Right now, INTACH is restoring Raja Udhey Bhan Singh's palace, which is being used as a PWD resthouse. Haryana has over 2,000 historical monuments, but unfortunately little has been done to preserve heritage values,” said Jain.

Email Sanjeev K Ahuja: skahuja13@gmail.com