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Filed between July 4 last year and April 30 this year; civic agency says stiff resistance from residents a problem

Filed between July 4 last year and April 30 this year; civic agency says stiff resistance from residents a problem

Written by Ruchika Talwar | New Delhi |
July 9, 2013 1:41:12 am

Heritage buildings in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin area face the growing problems of encroachment and illegal construction. From July 4,2011 till April 30 this year,the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) alone has filed 49 FIRs in the Nizamuddin police station against violation in and around protected monuments such as Barah Khamba,Chausath Khamba,Sabz Burj and Nizamuddin Baoli,among others. According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act,2010,no construction is allowed within a radius of 100 metres of ASI-protected monuments. However,one can see many buildings,new and old,within this radius.

As one heads towards Lodhi Road from Nizamuddin,within less than 100 metres from several ASI-protected monuments listed above,one sees an ongoing construction of a three-storey building with arches on the two upper floors. A multi-storey building has been constructed adjacent to the boundary wall of Chausath Khamba. People are living inside the tomb of Agah Khan,a Mughal monument which is ASI-protected. Squatters have installed wires,electric fittings and cupboards mounted on the walls inside the lower chamber of the tomb where they live. Locals allege the role of the police is suspect in protecting such people and also hint at the builder mafia greasing palms.

Vasant Kumar Swarnkar,head of the ASI’s Delhi region,told Newsline: “Whenever we learn of such illegal activity inside and around ASI-protected monuments,we file an FIR with the local police station. If the local police do not succeed in freeing them,the director-general of ASI can issue a notice for the removal of the offender from the site or order him/her to undo the damage at his/her own cost within 15 days. If this too fails,then the DG takes the help of the deputy commissioner. But we don’t have the jurisdiction to take punitive action. We are dependent on the police for that.”

For undertaking any construction or alteration in the capital,permission from the civic agency is required. A source in the civic body,which undertakes demolition said: “We ask police for help. We can take action against illegal construction if and when we are provided police force. Recently,we went to Lal Mahal after Newsline reported its demolition. A mob gathered there and we were met with stiff resistance from those who had occupied the building. We could only take minor action.”

Ajay Chaudhry,Additional Commissioner of Police (Southeast Delhi),said: “Whenever we receive a complaint regarding such activity,we take immediate action. Arrests have also been made in the recent past. Our beat officers are in regular touch with the appointed custodians of historical monuments.”

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