A voter awareness programme conducted by the South Delhi district administration at Qutab Minar premises on Saturday evening has raised the hackles of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) staff on ground, who claimed organisers violated the rules regarding littering and cooking on the compound.
The District Election Office (South) conducted a cultural evening between 4 pm and 9 pm on Saturday inside the premises, with an aim to generate interest in voters about the election on Saturday.
South Delhi DM BM Mishra says, “It was on open invitation event, which saw a participation of almost a thousand people from the area, while visitors at the monument also joined in.”
The ASI staff claimed when organisers left the premises on Sunday morning, it was badly littered and some cooking was also done in the compound, which goes against the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act governing ASI-protected monuments. “We will assess the extent of violations and scale the grievance to higher authorities, including the L-G,” said an ASI official, who did not want to be named.
NK Pathak, Director of Northern region, ASI, told The Indian Express: “I have asked the superintending archaeologist for a detailed report after which further action will be taken.”
Mishra said, “We want voter turnout in South Delhi to increase, for which we are trying to attract voters through various events. From the point of seeking permission, the ASI has been non-cooperative; they even delayed the permission for this cause.”
“There was no deliberate violation of rules, but in case, owing to the crowd, some littering happened, we got everything cleaned Sunday afternoon when we vacated the premises,” said Mishra, who insisted that no cooking was done on the premises.
Mishra admitted “there was a verbal altercation between their staff and ASI staff, but at no point there was any intention to flout the rules”.
“In case they find any violations, they can write to us officially and we will respond to any points they may raise,” added Mishra.
In the letter of permission granted to the South Delhi district on January 31, the ASI had stated that “banners or refreshments are not allowed inside the premises”, and “to ensure there is no littering”.
But despite that, the ASI official alleged, “meals and beverages were served to the crowds”, and “the administration staff captured the entire monument from Saturday till Sunday noon, and didn’t let the ASI staff or monument security staff in at any point”.
The ASI said a report will be prepared on Monday to assess the extent of violations and consequently, further course of action will be decided, which includes writing to the L-G’s office as well as to the Chief Secretary.
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