THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL Survey of India (ASI) has served a notice to Lucknow police for alleged construction near the gate of Chota Imambara, a heritage site, in Lucknow.
Deputy Superintending Archaeologist (ASI, Lucknow Circle) Manoj Saxena said they have asked the police to reply within two days. “We came to know about the issue (alleged construction at Satkhanda police outpost) through some residents. We objected to the renovation and it has been stopped. The outpost comes within 100 metres of the Chota Imambara, a no-construction zone,” said Saxena. “We will inspect the spot on Monday,” Saxena added.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Lucknow (West), Devesh Kumar Pandey said he has asked Additional DCP Shyam Narayan Singh to inspect the police outpost. “I have asked him to submit a report, after which it will be decided whether action has to be taken or not,” said Pandey.
The Satkhanda police outpost was built in the 1990s at the gate of the Chota Imambara. The outpost was damaged during the anti-CAA protests in the area in December last year, police officers said.
Why construction work is not allowed in a heritage zone
Officials of ASI, Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT), which owns the structure, and heritage enthusiasts said that it was a “case of extreme illegality and brazen violation of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) (AMASR) Act, 2010.” The Act strictly prohibits construction or renovation within a 100-metre area of a protected monument.
The HAT is headed by the Lucknow District Magistrate, who is the chairman of the Trust. The HAT was formed by King Mohammed Ali Shah in 1839 to oversee religious and charitable requirements of the community and to maintain the Nawabi-era monuments owned by the Trust.
ASI officials said restoration work of the gate to Chota Imambara was started in 2014 following an Allahabad High Court order. As per the order, the construction work was being done by ASI and the Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT). Officials said the renovation work being done by the police is also in violation of the court order.
City Magistrate Sushil Pratap Singh, who is also secretary of the HAT, said, “The property supervisor for the heritage zone, Aijaz Ahmad, was suspended after it was found that he knew about the construction but did not inform us. He was suspended before this matter came to light,” said Singh.
Singh added the renovation work has changed the look of the structure from outside. “They have filled the gaps in the lakhauri bricks and have plastered the structure from the outside. This has changed how the structure looks like from outside. Special permission is needed for this kind of work,” added Singh.
SHO, Thakurganj, Rajkumar claimed that only whitewashing and painting work was done. “We will reply to the notice,” said the SHO.
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