Call to save Delhi’s heritage sites

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Archaeologists suggest that Delhi government should restore heritage streets like Chandni Chowk and areas adjacent to Shahjanabad Road as they are losing their historical value because of encroachment, poor drainage system, congestion and overhanging wires. 

Delhi has many historical areas, such as Chandni Chowk, that need to be preserved [Credit: Deccan Herald]

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) says Delhi has many historic lanes which need to be restored. 

The areas identified by the team for intervention includes the  Jama Masjid, the road leading to Red fort, Dharampura Dariba of Dharampura, Kalan, Gali Anar, Kutcha Seth, and localities which are well known for their place in history. “We had proposed a restoration project for some areas in Shahjanabad and Chandni Chowk area to the Shahjanabad Redevelopment Council (SRDC) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) six months ago but they seem to be sitting on it,” said Ajay Kumar, archaeologist with INTACH. 

On the other hand, MCD officials say they have been trying to spread awareness in these areas. “Most of the heritage properties in Chandni Chowk are privately owned and used for commercial and residential purposes. But we have appealed to people to preserve the authentic structures. The proposal is with SRDC and they are working on it,” said Yogendra Maan, Public Relations Officer, MCD. SRDC officials were not available for comment. 

The key issues identified in these areas are inadequate infrastructure and congestion due to rickshaws and loading and unloading of products sold in the markets. “We need to push for guidelines which do not suggest demolition or evacuation of such structures but maintenance. Many of these structures have been rebuilt for commercial purposes and overhanging wires prevent people from admiring their beauty,” added Ajay. 

Moreover, dilapidated heritage buildings and high population density makes this area more vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. Even the Archaeological Survey of India has been pushing for preservation of heritage streets but nothing has materialised yet. 

“There is an acute necessity for Delhi to conserve streets with historical importance in a systematic manner. It is time the state government caters to this issue,” said K K Muhammad, senior archaeologist with Delhi circle, ASI. 

Experts call for strict guidelines to control streetscape by providing a sense of continuity to such streets with the help of uniform hoardings for shops, enhancing the ambience by cleaning the area and removing hanging wires, beautifying the streets by putting lamp-posts and mending the pavements and spreading awareness about historical streets and the stories that gave them their names. 

Author: Ashpreet Sethi | Source: Deccan Herald [February 01, 2012]

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