The newly constructed cobblestone pathways in the old city area of Lucknow may soon disappear, as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is set to approach the divisional commissioner, demanding their removal. The ASI has called the cobblestone work illegal and blamed it for causing water logging in and around the Rumi Gate.
Prior to this, the ASI had also served demolition notice to the public works department (PWD) which ensured the laying of cobblestones. ASI officials said the notice was served for carrying out the beautification work ‘illegally’. “The beautification work was illegal as the state agencies never sought any permission from ASI or National Monument Authority (NMA) which is mandatory,” senior ASI officials told HT.
The much touted beautification project of the old city began in 2015. ASI officials alleged the agencies engaged in the project often overlooked the norms since it was a pet project of the then chief minister. Laying of cobblestones affected the area most, they said.
“In nawabi era, brick roads were in vogue, not cobblestone. One will not find a single use of cobblestone across the country during the nawabi era. Then spending crores in laying the cobblestone on 1.5km stretch from Tilewali Masjid to Chhota Imambara is beyond comprehension,” a senior ASI official said.
Officials said laying of cobblestones had increased the ground level, causing water logging around Rumi Gate. “Increased ground level has engulfed around 70 or 80 cm of the structure resulting in water logging. It is further causing dampness at the base of the monument, made of lime, mortar and surkhi. It could be fatal in the longer run,” said NK Pathak, superintending archaeologist, Lucknow Circle, ASI.
In September 2016, ASI had also approached the state government, objecting to the laying of cobblestones. It had said that the stones did not gel with the monuments of the nawabi era. But no attention was paid to the plea.
In the recent inspection, cabinet minister Gopalji Tandon also found the use of cobblestone ‘unjust’ and has sought a detailed report from the departments concerned.
Sources in Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT) told HT that the total cost of laying the cobblestones (the use of which is quite common in pavements and early streets in Britain) would come to around R40.6 crore.
The ASI is again planning to take up the matter with the state government, demanding removal of the cobblestones.