95 monuments await ‘protected’ tag

Four years and an expired Memorandum of Understanding later,the state Archaeology department is again drafting a fresh MoU with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage to conserve the 95 monuments it had listed in October 2008.

Written by Sweta Dutta | New Delhi | Published: June 21, 2012 12:41:23 am

Four years and an expired Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) later,the state Archaeology department is again drafting a fresh MoU with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to conserve the 95 monuments it had listed in October 2008. In the past four years,17 of the 95 were conserved in the rush ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. But not one of them has been notified as “protected” till date.

While the state department of Archaeology is busy “processing” the notifications,many of these monuments have been encroached upon,turned into living mosques and madrassas and renovated beyond recognition.

Conservationists have time and again raised an alarm that alterations made to many of the monuments have left them beyond repair. However,the department of Archaeology — responsible for notifying,protecting and conserving heritage structures of prominence — insists that it is waiting for the notification process to be completed. Only after notification will it be in a position to “assert its authority over the monuments and ensure that encroachments are removed and the monuments protected”,said a department official.

The Delhi Development Authority,the body that owns a large number of these monuments,has been writing to the Archaeology department to take over the monuments at the earliest,so that once the encroachments are removed,the structures can be protected.

In 2008,the department had tied up with INTACH to conserve 95 monuments and notify them as protected.

As per the MoU,INTACH was to provide conservation and management of these monuments in two phases.

Under phase I,it was to prepare a site plan of the monuments showing all topographical features and structures up to a radius of 150 metres,along with the prohibited and regulated areas in the monument,photo documentation and structural description of the monument.

In phase II,it was to carry out structural conservation,chemical preservation and refurbishment. The Archaeology department was to have then notified all the 95 monuments as “protected”.

Since then,17 monuments have been conserved and illuminated but not one has been notified as protected. Officials say the preliminary notification of 48 heritage structures has been done and the paperwork is now being processed for the final notification,which requires the seal of the Lieutenant-Governor.

Preliminary notification is the process of making the proposed list of monuments public and inviting objections with regard to the ownership and other legalities of the structure. In the case of 48 monuments,the Wakf Board had raised objections regarding a large number of them but is said to have failed to prove its ownership. The list of 48 monuments has,therefore,finally been forwarded for approval from the Delhi government and then the L-G’s office.

This,according to officials of the Archaeology department,is an achievement in itself. Claiming that notifying 48 monuments at one go is an achievement in the history of heritage conservation,an official said that “even the Archaeological Survey of India took a 100 years to notify just 25 monuments” in Delhi.

The Archaeology department,which received statutory powers in 2004 — after the enactment of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act — has notified just six monuments in Badarpur and “hopes” to have another 48 added to the “protected list” by next month.

The three-year MoU with INTACH expired in 2011. The department sent out a draft of the new MoU to the heritage body for approval last week.

Convenor,Delhi Chapter,INTACH,A G K Menon told Newsline,“We are finalising a fresh MoU and once that comes through work on the monuments will resume. We have already presented a detailed estimate for conservation,illumination and maintenance of another 18 structures out of the list of 95 monuments.”

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