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For these Delhi colleges,the past stands in way of future

Colleges are unable to expand because they fall within the regulated zone of heritage sites

Written by Ruchika Talwar | New Delhi |
September 8, 2013 2:03:54 am

Gargi College shares a wall with Siri Fort,one of the seven cities of Delhi. Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) is within walking distance of the Rajpur Cemetery,the final resting place of soldiers who died in the revolt of 1857.

These are just two of several colleges under Delhi University (DU) located close to historical structures. But these colleges,instead of feeling proud,say the past is coming in the way of the future.

From a few hundred students they used to accommodate when they were built,these colleges today give admission to thousands of students. Unfortunately,despite the need to add capacity,the infrastructure of these institutions has not kept pace with students’ intake.

Many colleges were built before Independence. The buildings remain the same even today,more or less.

The primary reason why these colleges are not being able to expand is because the institutions fall within the regulated zone of heritage sites. It means they are governed by the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010,the Delhi Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 2004 and the by-laws of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

The first Act prohibits any alteration to buildings within 100 m (prohibited area) of the heritage structure and only alteration for which permission has been obtained in the next 200 m (regulated area).

Similarly,the second Act Act prohibits any alteration to buildings within 50 m (prohibited area) of the heritage structure and only alteration for which permission has been obtained in the next 100 m (regulated area).

Even after obtaining approval,clearance is required from a host of agencies like the MCD,Delhi Development Authority (DDA),Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC),Pollution Control Board (PCB),Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI),among others,before construction can begin.

Besides SRCC and Gargi,which are located near heritage sites protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),eight structures under DU are heritage buildings — the university office,the Gwyer Hall in North Campus,St Stephen’s College,St Stephen’s College chapel,IP College for Women,Tibbia College,St Stephen’s College Teachers’ Hostel and Guard House,and Hindu College.

Gargi College had to wait for two years to secure approval for a new academic block — a three-and-half storeyed structure — from the National Monuments Authority (NMA). Having moved past the NMA,the plan is now stuck with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

“It took us almost two years to get the approval of heritage authorities. The new block will have additional classrooms and laboratories,” principal Shashi Tyagi said.

SRCC has long felt the need to add more classrooms and hostels for its growing number of students. But the college’s proximity to the Rajpur Cemetery has become a stumbling block in the way of its expansion.

When SRCC wanted to construct a building to accommodate its growing number of students,it had to seek the ASI’s permission. After a long wait,the files are now stuck with the MCD.

“SRCC falls within 183 m of the Rajpur Cemetery. We have given the college authorities permission to construct a building up to 13 m high,” said Vasant Kumar Swarnkar,superintending archaeologist and head of ASI’s Delhi region.

Yogender Mann,Director (public relations),MCD (South),told Newsline that around a month ago,SRCC’s case was taken up by its Buildings department. “It found that the current building was not in accordance with the original layout. So we asked them to rectify the layout plan and come back for permission,” he said.

On Gargi College,Swarnkar said: “It is very close to Siri Fort,which is under ASI protection. They want to construct a conference hall close to the boundary wall of the fort,which is the bone of contention between them and the ASI. The case has come up several times and is still pending resolution.”

Similarly,Hindu College plans to add an academic block to its infrastructure. While the process for seeking approval from various authorities began in 2009,the college has still not been able to start construction.

The college,located within 200 metres of the Chauburja mosque,had to wait for around two years to get the approval of the heritage authorities. “Because of its proximity to the mosque,we needed the approval of the heritage authorities. While the plan was with the ASI earlier,after the formation of the NMA we had to seek approval from them,” Principal Pradyumn Kumar said.

“All these processes are taking a lot of time. The problem is not just the multiple authorities which need to be approached for approval,it is also regarding the 10-12 provisions that each approval requires,” Kumar added.

For example,a college has to submit a range of reports to obtain clearance from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). “For DPCC’s approval,we need a geo-technical report and a sewage report,among others. We appointed a surveyor towards the end of 2011 for the purpose,” Kumar said. The college had approached the DPCC in 2010.

Kamala Nehru College,too,received approval from the NMA only around three months ago. “The college has been battling with regulatory authorities since 2004-05 for approval to add another floor to its existing building. The DDA has to give the final approval,” Principal Minoti Chatterjee said.

On the other hand,Ram Lal Anand College,which plans to build a women’s hostel and a new academic block,was asked to pay a fee of Rs 20 crore for its Rs 8-crore project by the DDA.

“The governing body chairman of the college has asked for an appointment with the L-G. The college,along with four other colleges,had also met senior officials at the Directorate of Higher Education some weeks back to apprise them of the situation,” principal Vijay K Sharma said.

To look into these problems,the DU administration has set up an infrastructure committee. Colleges maintain that while the university has taken measures to look into the issue,the government needs to do the same.

Pradyumn Kumar said,“There should be some nodal agency which has members from the university and regulatory authorities. It can provide a single-window clearance to all colleges.”

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