The National Monument Authority (NMA) has rejected the permission sought by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (Maha-Metro) to undertake Pune Metro alignment from Civic Court to Ramwadi near Aga Khan Palace as it falls within the prohibited area of the monument.The NMA took the decision in a meeting on September 10 as this section lies within the prohibited area of the Aga Khan palace. As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, which was amended in 2010, no construction of any kind is allowed within 100 metres of a nationally protected monument. Aga Khan palace was declared a nationally protected monument in 2003.This development follows the 2016 order by the Bombay High Court in response to a petition filed by the city-based NGO Parisar that construction of the Metro project should not proceed without getting permissions from the NMA.Parisar, in a press note said, despite this Maha-Metro went ahead and awarded the tender for construction of the Civil Court to Ramwadi section on August 2. The rejection of permission to construct the Metro along Ahmednagar road abutting the Aga Khan palace is likely to cause project delays and cost escalation, Parisar said. Sujit Patwardhan, founder, Parisar accused Maha-Metro of “obstinately continuing to push the construction along Ahmednagar road despite the fact that it was very clear that they will violate the prohibited area of the Aga Khan palace”.Another citizen-activist Prashant Inamdar said, “The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) who planned the Pune Metro faced similar hurdles while constructing the Metro in Delhi and had to change their alignment many times to avoid going close to ancient monuments. They do not seem to have learnt from their mistakes.”Patwardhan and Parisar trustee Ranjit Gadgil described this development “an embarrassing development”.Maha-Metro appeals to NMA; will change alignment if required Reacting to the development, Brijesh Dixit, Maha-Metro managing director, said that Maha-Metro has appealed to the NMA to reconsider their decision after ensuring that the distance of the Metro project from the Aga Khan palace monument is out of the prohibited area.“But if they are firm about measuring the distance from the boundary wall of the palace, we will make minor changes in the metro line,” he said. Dixit said that the NMA is the final authority and Maha-Metro will respect the former’s order. “We have already got the permission for construction work at Jungli Maharaj chowk and near Shaniwarwada. The only pending issue was with regards to Aga Khan palace,” he said. Dixit said the Metro is one of the important projects for the city which will bring down pollution levels and help improve public transport. Both, the central and state governments, are supporting the project. “Maha-Metro will keep an alternative plan ready which will ensure that the project is not delayed,” he said.