There is more trouble in store for North Municipal Corporation’s first medical college associated with Hindurao hospital, which has been denied permission for renewal by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Now, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has filed a fresh complaint with police against the hospital authorities for carrying out construction close to a heritage site.
The ASI is reportedly objecting to construction around a 13th century baoli (step-well) located inside the hospital premises.
According to police officers at the Sabzi Mandi police station in North Delhi, the heritage conservation agency approached them in April this year, demanding action against the medical superintendent and municipal authorities for carrying out construction around the step-well.
Earlier in 2013, the ASI had first approached police, demanding action. ASI officials said the first complaint was filed on October 9, 2013.
Under the Archaeological Act, 2010, no fresh construction can be made within 100 metres of a protected monument. Besides, 300 metres around a centrally-protected monument is declared as regulated area.
“Around six months ago, we noticed construction of ramps near the baoli and sent a notice to the hospital. The authorities responded by saying that ramps are mandatory in all hospitals for smooth movement of wheel-chairs and stretchers and an important requirement for patients. We sought legal opinion and after it was ascertained that the ramps were in public interest, we withdrew our notice. A fresh notice was sent in April over other construction activities,” Superintendent Archaeologist (Delhi) Vasant Kumar said.
The ASI alleged that the authorities concerned and the hospital administration never sought its permission to go ahead with the construction of the medical college and other structures.
Police are, however, yet to register an FIR. Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sindhu Pillai said cases are usually not registered in construction-related matters as they are civil matter. “These are not cognizable offences. We are now going to send a joint team of ASI officials and police to take stock of the situation and decide on what action is to be taken,” he said.
“The hospital is already there. We cannot demolish it now. The baoli is right inside the hospital complex, which makes the entire hospital an unauthorised construction under ASI guidelines. So, should we tear the hospital down?” a police officer said.
Construction, meanwhile, has already been put on hold in the hospital, not only due to ASI’s objections, but also because the model code of conduct disallows fresh construction.
At the heart of the issue is a 13th century baoli belonging to the Tughlaq era that was reportedly constructed by Feroz Shah Tughlaq after he came to power in 1351.
Tughlaq, who built structures such as Feroze Shah Kotla and carried out repairs at Hauz Qazi and Qutub Minar, had constructured a shikaargaah — known as Kushak-i-Shikar then — as a palace or a rest house for his hunting expeditions near the North Delhi ridge.
“This baoli was built as part of that. Another structure near it which Feroz Shah Tughlaq constructured is believed to be Delhi’s first observatory,” historian Sohail Hashmi said.
Subsequently, Hashmi said, the place was bought by a Britisher, who built his house at the site.
“It is said that he lost it in gambling. It was later bought by William Fraser. He was eventually murdered in 1835 at the behest of the Nawab of Ferozepore, Shams-ud-Din Khan, whom he allegedly insulted at a gathering. The Nawab and his assassins were all executed and the building was then inherited by one of Fraser’s successors,” Hashmi said.
The building was finally bought by a Maratha agent, Hindu Rao, when Marathas took over Delhi and was called Hindu Rao house since then.
The hospital started operations only last year.