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Jama Masjid damage: ASI, disaster body teams inspect structure after HT report

A day after the Hindustan Times reported on extensive damage to the Jama Masjid structure, teams of ASI, Delhi Wakf Board and Delhi’s disaster management unit visited the mosque on Thursday. They have formed committees to assess the damage and suggest action.

delhi Updated: Dec 14, 2017 21:44 IST
Jama Masjid,Old Delhi,Shahi Imam
Teams of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), National Disaster Management Authority and Delhi Wakf Board inspect damage in the Jama Masjid in New Delhi on Thursday.(Sanchit Khanna / HT PHOTO)

New Delhi

Teams from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and the Delhi Wakf Board (DWB) carried out an inspection at the Jama Masjid on Thursday, hours after the Hindustan Times highlighted how cracks caused by water seepage were threatening the iconic 361-year-old mosque in old Delhi.

The four-member ASI team -- the national watchdog of heritage monuments – was led by Rajendra Dehori, deputy superintendent (archaeology) at the agency’s Delhi division.

He said that the team made a preliminary assessment of the damage to the monument. “We will take stock of the cracks and crumbling walls in the monument. It will be followed by a proper survey by a team of officials from the director general (north division), which is the final decision-making authority. They will decide when the restoration work can be initiated,” Dehori told Hindustan Times.

In a front-page report capturing the damage to the Mughal-era mosque, HT had highlighted how the Jama Masjid was in urgent need of repair because parts of its external facade and internal structure were crumbling. The custodians of the mosque, including its Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, said that the monument was plagued by rampant water seepage that was damaging the central dome and parapet carvings.

They also said that they had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention, and made several appeals to the ASI to help with restoration work.

Restoration work was last carried out at the Jama Masjid 10 years ago by the ASI after a report prepared by conservation architect Naveen Piplani. The Masjid is not an ASI-protected monument and its custodian is the Delhi Wakf Board, which says it neither has the funds nor the expertise to get repair work done.

The four-member DDMA team led by district project officer Neelofar Nizami, took photographs of damaged portions. “A preliminary report would be prepared based on the inspection, which will be handed over to the district magistrate. Since the masjid witnesses a heavy footfall, especially during the Friday prayers, efforts were needed to keep a check on the damage and ensure proper monitoring to avoid any mishap,” said an official accompanying the group.

Nidhi Srivastava, district magistrate (central district), said a team of officials was sent following the directions from divisional commissioner Manisha Saxena to evaluate the extent of damage. It will submit a report on Friday.

“Cracks in domes, pillars, and arches are clearly visible. Stones at some places have left their original positions. The structure requires major renovation, which may take years,” said a member of the visiting team who asked not to be named.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 17:39 IST