Friday, February 19, 2010

DUAC and DMRC tussle over monument’s conservation

In a heated meeting at Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) on Wednesday over a parking lot coming up opposite Delhi High Court, the commission has asked DMRC to protect a Lodi-period monument at the site with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and pay for its conservation.

DMRC denied that it was undertaking construction work at the site and said only ‘‘preparatory work’’ was on. But last week, members of DUAC visited the site and were unhappy with the heavy machinery around the 16th century monument and a 30-foot-deep pit. The members said the construction work had caused cracks in the monument, which DMRC denied.

While DMRC has obtained clearance for the project, it has not got a nod from the DUAC and is allegedly going ahead with construction work despite a stop work notice issued by NDMC after the monument was notified.

DMRC officials said they were asked by DUAC to pay for the conservation and upkeep of the monument. ‘‘DMRC is just a consultant for the project and not the owner, so we will discuss with our client (Delhi High Court bar association) about the amount, if any, to be paid, and by whom. In any case, if ASI wants us to pay for the upkeep of this monument then they have to write to us. DUAC is not the authority to decide this,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson.

Meanwhile, an official from the high court bar association, which is getting the parking lot work done, said: ‘‘DUAC has asked for clarifications which we will give to them in a day or two. But I don’t believe DUAC has anything to do with heritage and we have obtained all clearances.’’

However, the body that needs to take responsibility for the monument is still uncertain. The tomb is not protected by ASI, but the state department of archaeology intends to bring it under the umbrella. So, experts feel that the state archaeology department should look after the monument. DMRC had held a joint inspection with ASI on the monument some time back where the ASI made it clear that no harm should come to the structure as they gave permission to DMRC for the work with the site falling in the regulated zone of Purana Qila.