ON FRIDAY, senior officials of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will visit a heritage stepwell, believed to have been built in 1905, to decide whether it should make way for a “sector road” near the busy Sohna Road in Gurgaon.
With residents of Badshahpur expressing fears that the baoli in their village would be lost forever, HUDA administrator Yashpal Yadav confirmed that officials would assess the situation over the weekend and determine their course of action.
“Our executive engineer is visiting the spot on Friday, and I intend to undertake a visit on Saturday. We will see what the course of the road is and whether or not the stepwell would be on the intended route. But we hope to preserve the structure and find a way to complete our project without building over it,” said Yadav.
However, students and faculty of Gurgaon-based Ansal University’s Sushant School of Art and Architecture, who conducted research on the baoli in 2005, claimed that work has already begun to bury the stepwell.
“Since our research project, the area has changed drastically, with the catchment area being built upon. We conducted two visits within three days this week and even in that gap, work had progressed. When we went on Thursday, there were trucks and bulldozers dumping sand into the stepwell to cover it up,” said a faculty member, who did not wish to be named.
Residents of Badshahpur, which is also home to a 16th-century Mughal-era fort structure, confirmed that construction work started near the stepwell “one or two days ago”. While some rued the loss of the stepwell, which they see as an integral part of their history, others said they looked forward to better connectivity to the rest of the district.
“It is true that the baoli has not been used for many years, and is not maintained properly. However, it is still a part of our history that could be cultivated to attract people, and promoted as a picnic or tourist spot. I wish the focus was on doing that rather than sacrificing it in the name of development,” said a resident of the village, who did not wish to be named.
“The baoli was anyway becoming a menace. It is an open area that children can fall into and where flies have been breeding. It is better that the area be developed rather than the stepwell preserved in this state. Our village must also move forward,” said Naresh Kumar, another resident.
“It was meant to provide water for the cows, buffaloes and other livestock that people used to keep in those days, and was of great use. However, over time, as people gave up agriculture and took to other professions, the area around the baoli has developed and it has gone out of use,” said Subhash Dhanker, from Badshahpur.