The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday raised a question mark on the authenticity of the ongoing preservation work being carried out by Hussainabad Allied Trust (HAT) at Chhota Imambada and demanded an immediate halt.
The ASI has also objected to the ongoing construction work at the Picture Gallery and has approached its headquarters to intervene. It said construction at the Picture Gallery was sheer violation of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010 that prohibited any construction within and near the protected monument.
The ASI's move came after a short survey that it carried out a couple of weeks back to check the authenticity of the ongoing construction work at Chhota Imambada, and architectural marvel built by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah in 1838.
"The officers were aghast at the way preservation work was being carried out at Chhota Imambada, as it was totally against the norms," an ASI officer said.
Instead of using mortar, lime and surkhi, the ideal material for preservation work, the officer said the labourers were found using cement. "In those days mortar, lime and surkhi were generally used as binding material for the monuments. But using cement in place amounts to a crime and it will ruin the monument," the officer who inspected the Imambada said.
He said technically, the same material (as used earlier in the monument) should be used for preservation work. Use of cement would ruin the entire edifice.
The style of preservation was another thing that the officers found highly objectionable and said it was totally against the preservation norms. "Old monuments like Imambada only need to be conserved. But in this case, the labourers were found breaking the plaster and applying a fresh one, using cement," the officer said.
One had no right to spoil the originality of the structure, the officer said. Be it on the left side of Chhota Imambada or the right side of the main entrance gate, at all the places, the labourers were breaking the original plaster that bore the Quranic verses, calligraphy and aesthetic artwork, he said. They were re-plastering with the same kind of designs. "This way there will be nothing original left. Besides, they are also minimising the scope for any future restoration work that is not at all possible after using cement," he added.
The ASI also raised an objection over the illegal construction of toilets at the ASI-protected Picture Gallery. "It was found that the toilets were being constructed at the Picture Gallery. It is a protected monument and any construction is illegal," said NK Pathak, superintending archaeologist, ASI.
Pathak said in this context, a letter had been written to the district magistrate and also to the ASI headquarters.