Days after HT reported about the use of cement in the repair of historic Chhota Imambara, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Wednesday directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take over the restoration work of the monument from Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT).
The court also ordered the HAT, which is the custodian of Chhota Imambada, to bear the expenses to be incurred in the repairs.
Division bench of justice Shabihul Hasnain and justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya also directed the ASI to submit its action taken report on the next date of hearing fixed for October 27.
Under the National Policy for Conservation of Ancient Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 2014, only the use of ‘historical material’ in the restoration of any centrally protected monument is permitted.
The upkeep of the protected monuments is carried out by ASI. However, the HAT had started the repair of Chhota Imambada using non permissible material. It claimed that it had written to ASI, which failed to respond, forcing them to undertake the task.
However, when Hindustan Times carried a detailed report on September 7, heritage activist S Mohammed Haider, whose PIL on heritage conservation was pending, moved in an application. The court, in its first hearing, stopped the construction and sought replies from concerned parties. On Wednesday, it handed over the task to the ASI. “It is a landmark order. While it will prompt ASI to give the best conservation to monuments, it will also deter custodians such as HAT from carrying out works using unscientific methods,” said S Mohammed Haider, a heritage activist.