Delhi’s Purana Quila lake set to get a makeover, renovation underway
The lake forms part of the moat once surrounding the Purana Quila, which would get water from Yamuna. Until the moat was redeveloped as boating destination in 1971-72, it was filled with garbage and its neighbourhood was encroached upon.Updated: Jun 03, 2018 09:10 IST
With broad walkways, decorative lights, aerating fountains and cabanas, the lake at historic Purana Quila, once famous for boat rides, will be ready to welcome visitors again this October. However, the boating facility that was stopped in August 2016 will not be available for now.
To redevelop the 23-acre area of the 16th century citadel, built by Mughal emperor Humayun and Sher Shah, into a visitor-friendly picnic spot, the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) will be creating an amenities block, parking area, cafeteria and a souvenir shop. RO water dispensers will also be installed at various spots.
A small interpretation centre is also being developed, where tourists will be able to get information about the history of Purana Quila complex.
Since its creation in 1971, this is the first major redevelopment and beautification work of the lake and its vicinity that is being implemented.
The NBCC adopted the ancient site under the culture ministry’s ‘adopt a monument’ scheme announced last year. The project cost is Rs 27 crore, which is being shared by the Corporation and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The renovation work began in March 2018.
◼ Decorative lamp posts, cabanas and amenities block
◼ Cafeteria, souvenir shop and state-of-the-art ticket counters equipped with modern security features
◼ Plastic waterproofing membrane in the lake bed to stop water loss
◼ Chlorine treatment to maintain its cleanliness
“We are working expeditiously to meet the October 2 deadline. The redeveloped area and lake will be reopened to public on Gandhi Jayanti. At present, there is no plan to restart boating because it requires certain depth to run vessels and we are not going beyond the depth of two metres,” said a senior official of NBCC, who is associated with the project.
Appropriate measures are being taken to maintain the water level and hygiene of the water body. It includes dredging, placing plastic waterproofing membrane in the bed, installation of aerating fountains and a silt chamber to prevent rainwater sludge flowing into the lake.
“Plastic waterproofing membrane in the lake bed will stop water loss. It will not allow water to seep into the ground. We are putting 8-11 aerating fountains to keep water circulation. We will do frequent chlorine treatment to maintain its cleanliness and prevent breeding of bacteria,” said Anoop Kumar Mittal, chairman and managing director, NBCC.
Initially, 50 lakh cubic metre water is needed to revive the water body. The NBCC will arrange it from Delhi Jal Board’s Okhla sewage treatment plant (STP) and, thereafter, it will get supply of rainwater.
“We have already had talks with the DJB. They have agreed to supply adequate water. We are arranging water from other source also. We want to complete the project before the monsoon, by end of June,” said NK Pathak, superintending archaeologist, Delhi circle (ASI).
“To facilitate walking around the lake, broad walkways and ramps are being laid. Decorative street lamps will be installed along its path and also in lakeside area. Benches and cabanas are also being set up so that the picnickers can enjoy their visit even during rains,” said Raman Kumar Aggarwal, executive director, NBCC.
In addition to state-of-the-art ticket counters equipped with modern security features, the fort illumination is also part of the comprehensive redevelopment plan, said another NBCC official.
Existing façade lights will be replaced with LED lamps. As per the plan, Qila-e-Kuhna Mosque situated inside the fort complex, Bara Darwaza (main gateway facing Mathura Road) and entire rampart starting from the gate to Bhairon Mandir are to be illuminated. The lighting arrangement will be a mix of façade and architectural lightings to highlight details of structural components like jharokhas (overhanging balconies) and arches.
Recent history of Purana Quila
The lake forms part of the moat once surrounding the fort, which would get water from Yamuna. Until the moat was redeveloped as boating destination in 1971-72, it was filled with garbage and its neighbourhood was encroached upon.
Soon after the Partition, temporary shelters were set up within the monuments in south Delhi, including Purana Quila complex to accommodate refugees. Thousands of people stayed at the old fort for months before they were rehabilitated in colonies across the city.
While people residing at Purana Quila were relocated, a few commercial establishments such as timber stores, coal depots and furniture shops continued to stay along the outer wall of the fort, writes former Delhi lieutenant-governor Jagmohan says in his book ‘Triumphs and Tragedies of Ninth Delhi’.
Squatters were removed from the site and relocated to Mayapuri, Naraina industrial area and in west Delhi around 1967.
“The cleared area was redeveloped. In place of muddy and garbage ridden moat, a delightful water body of substantial length and breadth was created between the wall of the fort and the main road,” says the book.
After getting rid of squatters, the Delhi Development Authority was given the task to redevelop the moat and its surrounding, which also started the boating in 1971.
The original custodian was Land and Development Office (L&DO), which was later handed over to ASI. “The DDA introduced boating facility in the artificial lake at the site. The authority ran boating facility for 20 years and in 1992-93, it was handed over to Delhi Tourism,” said AK Jain, former commissioner (planning), DDA.
Since August 2016, the site is shut as the ASI did not renew the contract with Delhi Tourism department.