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November 2009 Back
 
Siri Fort to close for 4 months for makeover

New Delhi: The capital’s cultural display hub at Siri Fort is going to shut down for four months for a makeover. The centre with four auditoriums is going to undergo renovation for the approaching Commonwealth Games.

‘‘Siri Fort is going to be closed for renovation from December 1 to April 30 next year. We are going to refurbish it and hope to finish it on time. We have already closed all bookings from December 1 onwards,’’ said a Siri Fort official. ‘‘While the biggest auditorium among the four here will be closed till April 30, the other three won’t be available till March 31,’’ the official added. The biggest auditorium (Audi I) at Siri Fort has a seating capacity of 1,865 followed by that of 3.97 lakh and 67 respectively for the other three (Audi II, III and IV). However the official denied ‘‘any plans for capacity extension’’ during renovation.

The authorities are also considering ‘‘hiking the rental charges of the auditoriums’’, as the rates for the four haven’t been changed since the early 1990’s. ‘‘The booking charges depend upon the shift, working day, cultural shows (commercial or noncommercial), cinema shows (ordinary or premieres), function or conference,’’ informed the official.

The ‘‘green rooms, VIP lounge, lobby and video projector’’ are also available at ‘‘specific charges per shift including extra charges per hour’’. An auditorium can be booked for a programme only after ‘‘obtaining no-objection certificate from DCP, licensing and entertainment tax office.’’ IANS
 
1 November 2009, Times City, Times of India
ASI draws court ire for setting up special panel

It was advising on grant of permission for carrying out construction within 100 metres of protected monuments

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has pulled up the Archaeological Survey of India for setting up an Expert Advisory Committee to advise its Director-General on appeals against grant of permission for carrying out construction within 100 metres of protected monuments across the country.

Directing maintenance of status quo vis-└-vis two houses built within 100 metres of Humayun’s Tomb in Nizamuddin East here, Chief Justice A. P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar said: “The committee of the ASI, which has no basis for its functioning, has been examining applications and granting permissions for construction within 100 metres of protected monuments contrary to a notification of the Union Government without any guidelines whatsoever.”

“What is even more astonishing is that in the notes on the file proposing setting up of the committee, no reference is made either to an order by a Division Bench of the High Court or to an order by the Supreme Court regarding the matter,” the Bench observed..

The ASI had taken the stand before the Supreme Court that the Union Government’s notification of June 16, 1992, prohibiting any construction within 100 metres from a protected monument was sacrosanct and ought not to be diluted at all.

“The committee set up by the ASI to consider relaxation of the norm on a case-to-case basis is not only unacceptable as being contradictory to its own stand, but is also clearly impermissible in law,” the Bench observed.

The Bench said it was informed that the committee had processed over 400 applications from all over the country and over 150 applications from Delhi itself.

It directed the ASI through its Director-General to immediately stop accepting and processing any application for grant of permission for construction/renovation of any structures or buildings in a prohibited area and also accepting appeals against any orders that might have been issued refusing such permissions. It further directed the ASI to take steps within four weeks to reconsider all permissions granted pursuant to the appointment of the committee and take consequential steps after giving the affected parties an opportunity to be heard.

The Bench passed the orders on an appeal by a building construction company seeking vacation of a stay on construction of a house falling within 100 metres of Humayun’s Tomb.

A Single-Judge Bench of the Court had stayed the construction on a petition by an advocate whose house abuts that of the construction company. The advocate had filed the petition challenging permission granted by the ASI to the company to rebuild the house which it had purchased in 2005. The permission was granted by the ASI Director-General on advice by the expert committee following an appeal by the company against rejection of its application for construction by a superintendent engineer of the ASI.

However, the Court later found that the advocate’s house was also built illegally. The Bench, therefore, ordered that status quo be maintained in respect of both properties -- A-9 and A-10 -- “as they are stated to be in contravention of the Government’s notification of 1992”.

The Bench directed the Government to exercise its powers to direct the owner or occupier of an authorised building in a prohibited area to remove such building or part thereof vis-└-vis both properties or any other occupier by issuing them each a show-cause notice within two weeks and pass a reasoned order after hearing them.
1 November 2009, The Hindu
A murder in Dilli

In her whodunnit The Englishman’s Cameo, Madhulika Liddle summons the past with ease. Amrita Dutta accompanies her as she goes about recreating 17th-century Shahjahanabad

“That is where the murder would have occurred.” We are at the Hayat Baksh Bagh inside the Red Fort, now a shrunken memory of the beautiful imperial garden it once was. Eyes follow author Madhulika Liddle’s finger beyond the fringe of the garden to a spot about a hundred metres away. We hungrily imagined the thrust of the dagger, the muffled cry, the body soaked in blood. We are near the scene of the first murder in the 37-year-old author’s debut novel, The Englishman’s Cameo, a whodunnit set in 17th-century Shahjahanabad.

The delicious chill of a murder mystery settles on this October morning as she shows us around her novel’s landscape of intrigue. It’s a leap of imagination across centuries. The Red Fort is no longer the seat of power, its gardens are dry and hammams locked up, the Bazaar-e-Musaqqaf is quiet, lined with shops selling tawdry bric-a-brac. Not much of 17th century Dilli has survived. But Liddle summons the past with ease, gasping at the beauty of the Sawan-Bhadon pavilions as she imagines their niches aglow with golden flowers by the day and candles by the night. Or chuckles at the ribald parties thrown by noblemen at havelis in the city.

“The Lal Qila was a populous settlement in itself. Inside it were palaces, gardens, busy markets and the homes of the salatein, the many members of the royal family. And the noblemen were quite a promiscuous lot,” she says.

At Chandni Chowk, she points to the shabby shops selling electrical goods and clothes and tell us: “These were the qahwa khanas.” The coffee houses that served the bitter, new-fangled brew her hero, Muzaffar Jang, sips to clear his mind.

Liddle’s Shahjahanabad is not the exotic city of courtly rituals and etiquette. She writes about the city with an insider’s knowledge-the life around the Yamuna, the mohallas of Chandni Chowk, the routine violence of a kotwali. “The court has been done to death in popular culture. I was more interested in the life of ordinary people of the time.”

Jang is a hero after her heart. “He loves birds, like I do, and is a modern man in a medieval setting,” she says. He is a non-conformist among omrahs, uninterested in clothes, jewels or “slim, beautiful boys” and scandalously wont to befriend people outside his class-sharp-tongued boatmen and gentle hakeems. When his friend is falsely accused of murder, Jang’s steps in to clear the mystery. His investigation takes him on a trail of the city’s havelis and ghats and on a trip halfway across the kingdom.

Liddle finished writing The Englisman’s Cameo two years ago but had to wait to find a publisher. In some ways, she has been researching her novel for a long while. “In the mid-1990s, I was working for the India Habitat Centre and was asked to do some research on heritage walks,” she says. With a friend in tow, she started ambling in the Walled City, discovering many stories in its maze of galis and kuchas. She hasn’t stopped walking since.

How would have a murder investigation proceeded in Shah Jahan’s Dilli? “There would have been none,” she says with a laugh. “If ten witnesses vouched they saw a man commit a murder, it would be enough to sentence him to death. An amateur detective in 17th century Delhi is quite an anachronism.” Liddle had read enough of historical detective fiction to transpose this genre to the unlikely setting of medieval India. Her favourite detectives from the long, gone past being Marcus Dideus Falco, a sleuth in ancient Rome, Judge Dee from medieval China and Sister Fidelma, a medieval Irish nun.

Liddle’s next is going to be a collection of short stories which test Jang’s detective skills. “Most of the stories will involve murders. I think he’s growing as a detective. He was quite na´ve about people to start with,” she says. “And yes, I’m going to clear up the mystery about his love life too.”

1 November 2009, Indian Express

Recreating History’s Lost Bastions

Eye on Games, ASI is Repairing Missing Portions of Tughlaqabad Fort’s Main Enclosure
Situated on a high rocky ground on the outskirts of Delhi, a magnificent 14th century fortress built by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq — founder of the Tughlaq dynasty — is in for a massive facelift. To revive the glory of this symbolic monument — one of the remnants of the seven cities of Delhi — the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is repairing broken bastions which form the main enclosure of the fortification wall of Tughlaqabad. Missing battlements on top of these bastions will also be replaced so the fortress resembles its former self as much as possible.

The original bastions collapsed several years ago and have not been repaired since. While conservation work has been undertaken in the past, this is the first time missing bastions are being reconstructed to fill in the missing portions of the fortification wall. Work is likely to take several months as it requires a lot of skill and expertise to resurrect the bastion in the same manner as they originally were.

According to senior officials, repair was doubly important as parts of the bastions left standing without any support on either side were also in danger of collapsing. Moreover, to give the monument greater visibility during the Commonwealth Games, ASI is planning to put lights along the entire stretch of the fortification wall for which it was imperative to resurrect the missing portions.

Work has been in progress for over two months and collapsed portions of the wall are being carefully resurrected according to original design. ‘‘At three separate points, the bastions have been resurrected where they were completely missing. Huge gaps in the fortification wall were weakening other parts of the structure too and these had to be strengthened. There are a few more points on the eastern side of the wall where similar work will be undertaken,’’ said a senior ASI official. The project cost is a whopping Rs 2 crore, out of which half the allocation is just for the building material being brought in from Rajasthan.

ASI is also hoping to revive tourist interest in the 14th century fortress, which till now is visited by few tourists due its off-location. ‘‘Once conservation work is complete, we will illuminate the entire top of the fortification wall. People driving towards Tughlaqabad will notice the monument more and hopefully, it will get more visitors,’’ said the ASI official.

Conservation of Tughlaqabad Fort is also in accordance with ASI plans to highlight the historical significance of the seven cities of Delhi. Work is also on in Qila Rai Pithora, Purana Qila, Siri Fort wall, etc. ‘‘Ultimately, we will introduce packages for tourists to relive the seven cities of Delhi. This would become a very popular tourist destination during the Games. Pamphlets highlighting details of the monuments connected with the seven cities of Delhi would be brought out and people would get more insights about Delhi’s history,’’ said an official.

According to historians, Tughlaqabad Fort was once symbolic of the might of the Tughlaq dynasty. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq built the fort as part of Tughlaqabad, the third city of Delhi. ‘‘This was the period of political unrest, with continuous danger of Mongol attack from the north-western borders of the empire. To save the empire, Ghiyasuddin built the Tughlaqabad Fort,’’ said a historian.

Even though much of the fort is in ruins, it bears testimony to past glory and the might of Delhi Sultanate. Conservation architects say the ramparts, battlements and mammoth stonework of Tughlaqabad Fort speak highly of the architectural skills and advancement of the craftsmen.
 

3 November 2009, Times of India, Times City
Kids of workers attend classes

Alongside protecting the city’s past, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is also working to better its future. As conservation work progresses at several monuments in view of the Commonwealth Games, ASI has set up temporary schools for the children of labourers who have come to work at the sites from far off places.

Funds have been collected to provide uniforms and stationery to these children — all between four and 12 years — who have a threehour class every day, while their parents go about their daily work. A local teacher has also been roped in to teach the kids in the small classrooms that have been set up inside a tent near the monuments. ‘‘The funding for the school is being borne by ASI officials as it is an inhouse project. Site contractors are given responsibility for the schools being run. The children are very happy with the classes. They are taught alphabets and older kids are taught to read and write also,’’ said ASI Delhi circle chief K K Mohammed, who conceived the idea.

Right now, classes are being held at three monument sites — Tughlaqabad Fort, Safdarjung Tomb and Balban’s Tomb. But in the coming days, the classrooms will spread to more sites like Qila Rai Pithora, Siri Fort and Najaf Khan’s tomb. ‘‘The children will keep moving as the location of their classrooms is shifted when their parents go from one site to the other for conservation work. Right now, classes are being held in the morning. We also propose to hold evening classes for the adult labourers and teach them basics like writing their names and signature,’’ added Mohammed.

These classes have proved to be a huge help for the labourers. Many have not been able to send their children to school in the capital. Munni and Aamna, both from MP, have been working on the conservation project at Tughlaqabad Fort for over two months and are very happy that their respective children are attending school while they are at work.

‘‘I would not have been able to send my child to school otherwise. My eldest daughter went to school for a brief while in our village before we came here,’’ said Munni, whose three kids — Saraswati (8), Hadli (5) and Ravi (2) — are being taught in the ASI-run school. Kalyan, another labourer, said this was the first time his five-year-old daughter, Zebi, was attending school.
 
3 November 2009, Times of India, Times City
Bahuguna brings ‘Save Himalaya’ movement to N-E

Noted environmentalist and Chipko movement leader Sunderlal Bahuguna today warned that the next World War, if come about, would be fought over no other issue but water which is getting extremely precious day by day given the onslaught of climate change.
Launching the ‘Save Himalaya, Save Water, Save Life’ movement here for the North-East states, Bahuguna said, “The Himalayas is the main source of water and we have to save the ecology of Himalayas first save ourselves.”

Calling upon the people, especially women folk to join the movement, Bahuguna observed that the Himalayas should be the focal point to build mutual trust among neighbouring countries to save it and its water and other lives.

The campaign that was started in Jammu and Kashmir on September 30 was now being taken to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland by Bahuguna and his co-campaigners.

The movement has been prompted by alarming ground realities like drastic change in the snowfall patterns and the fast melting of glaciers due to impact of global warming in the Himalayan region, frequent severe drought and floods.

The delegation of the movement led by Bahuguna is travelling to all Himalayan states in India and neighbouring countries to hold consultation with governments, eminent citizens, media, civil society groups in an attempt to invoke environmental awareness and consolidate opinions on the need to push for specific development policies for the region in view of increasing threats to eco-system, lives and livelihoods.

Referring to his interaction with people of Srinagar, Bahuguna said people spoke about ‘dying’ of Dal Lake, drastic change in snowfall pattern and the Kashmir valley witnessing unprecedented hot weather.

“Our humble attempt is aimed at making people aware of the imminent ecological threats and laying stress on the need to draw a new, more humane, more ecologically sensitive development plan for the Himalayan region,” campaign convenor Kishore Upadhyay said..
 
3 November 2009, Tribune
Kapurthala Heritage Festival from Nov 20

Just a day earlier, the situation seemed nothing short of grim for the organisers of the Kapurthala Heritage Festival. But within a day of a story having been published about the sorry state of the financial affairs of the festival in The Tribune, things have started looking up for this musical tradition of the town.

A visit of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal to Kapurthala turned things around for the district and its music lovers as one hears that the much-needed funds have now been given a green signal by the Finance Minister himself.

Talking to The Tribune, Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Raj Kamal Chaudhary said, “The Finance Minister has given us a clear go ahead and assured us the clearance of the paperwork regarding the funds as soon as he joins office next. The festival will be held on November 20 and 21.”

On being asked what had caused the funds to be delayed as late as mid-November for an event which usually takes place in October-end, the Deputy Commissioner said, “Basically, we work through the Culture and Tourism Department, which was supposed to forward our request for funds to the Finance Ministry. The department told us that they had forwarded our request to the Finance Department but awaited clearance of paperwork from there.”

The Finance Minister said, “Initially there was some miscommunication but things have been sorted out now and funds will be cleared for the festival.”

The cultural organisations, which had recently sent a memorandum for the release of funds to the Finance Minister, lauded the speeding up of the efforts for fund clearance and expressed happiness and relief over the fact that the chain of the festival would remain unbroken.

3 November 2009, Tribune

Past perfect

The exhibition, Indian life and Landscape, at National Gallery of Modern Arts has on display some rare and interesting works by European artists who visited India between 18th to 20th centuries, reports Nanda Das
Be it an intrepid traveler, a writer, scholar, or someone seeking spiritual ecstasy, India has always been a favourite gateway for people across the world. India’s spectacular architecture, the immense natural beauty of her landscapes, and the great diversity of her people have inspired artists world over. One of the testimonies to this fact is the ongoing exhibition Indian Life and Landscape by Western artist at the National Gallery of Modern Art (till December 6). The works on view not only take viewers back to a period in history but also gift them an invaluable sociological document from centuries ago.

A case in point is the painting View of the old fort at Calcutta (now Kolkata) where the artist has painted how the famous Clive street looked before the independence on the bank of river Hoogly. In this particular work (done with pencil), the artist has sketched Clive Street at Old Fort William in the centre on his canvas. There is a new Fort William on its left and Holwell Monument and the magnificent Writers’ building on the extreme right.

Another painting titled Eastern Gate of the Jummah Masjid at Delhi by Thomas Daniell and William Daniell captures the grandeur of the architecture of the mosques. The usage of aquatint (a kind of printmaking) on paper has brought a life to the artwork. The uncle-nephew duo traveled widely in India, painting magnificent buildings not only the identified ones but also that has now crumbled to dust such as Hindu Temple at Agouree on the River Soane. These ancient temples have been covered through the warped roots of the banyan tree with River Soan just visible in the distance.

There are over ninety such masterpieces on display that captures India between 1790 and 1927. According to Rajeev Lochchan, director of the NGMA, the exhibition opens up a new window for everyone to witness the once unchallenged beauty and charm of this country.

“The exhibition is a collection from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, which shows rare and interesting water colours, sketches, aquatints, lithographs and engravings by European artists who visited India between 18th to 20th centuries,” he says.

Lochan explains how the art too underwent transition during the course time, “The first visual representations of India by Western artists were of imaginary landscapes and settings. It was only after professional European artists began travelling to India that they painted, for the first time, scenes based on direct observation. Their passionate interest in this new and exciting land led to the creation of a comprehensive pictorial record of India, in a visual style familiar to Western audiences.”

The exhibition is divided into four sections showcasing the works of various schools of art. It begins with a ‘Picturesque’ tour of India through dramatic pictures of splendid forts, temples, and palaces. The second section has works by amateur artists who were captivated by the landscape and architecture. The third section highlights the ‘romanticism’ of Indian art that was depicted through decorative paintings entirely from the imagination. The fourth section, based on realism, documents the social life and people engaged in various professions during that time....

The exhibition is on till December 6.
3 November 2009, Pioneer
Brushing the dust off trivia on Delhi University colleges

Heritage walk around North Campus reveals proud, interesting moments of colleges’ past
  • In 1942, the students of Indraprastha (IP) College sent the Muslim soldiers fighting in World War II rakhis as part of a campaign they called Rakhi Expedition. In response, the then district administration decided to cut wheat rations to the college hostel because they thought communal harmony was not a good idea.
  • In 1935, IP students were asked to record their race and caste. A certain Asma Said on June 4, 1935, simply signed ‘Mughal’.
  • The Non-Cooperation Movement of 1922 was drawn up in the office of the then principal of St Stephen’s College, S K Rudra, who also was the first Indian principal of the college.

On Saturday, a group of 10 people came together to uncover trivia, anecdotes and moments about the North Campus of Delhi University, which usually remain hidden in college archives or in people’s memory.

As part of the special heritage walk orgainsed by Surekha Narain, the group explored IP College, St Stephen’s College, Hindu College, among others.

Meena Bhargava, reader in History at IP College, led the group around the campus. Talking about the ration cut imposed on the college in 1942, she highlighted an article by the newspaper National Call, which chose to discuss the positive side of the ban in its September 3, 1942 edition.

“In these days when slimming is becoming a craze, especially among girls, the Indraprastha College might take virtue of an indiscretion and open its premises to a slimming sanatorium,” said the newspaper, suggesting that the college could consider compulsory slimming courses. “That, by itself, should attract more students,” the article read.

Emphasising students’ determination, Bhargava said, “The college day was coming up and the students were determined not to let the ban affect it. They managed with contributions from their own pockets. The embargo went on till 1945.”

The wheat ban was not to be the only time when IP students stood up against authority. “In 1956, the university said it had no funds for a swimming pool; then students and teachers raised money on their own,” Bhargava said.

Anshul Verma, a Stephanian, led the group during the walk around St. Stephen’s, who told the group about the mystery of missing ‘t’ from ‘St’ in the college’s foundation laying plaque. In the foundation stone plaque, laid by C F Andrew on March 7, 1939, the name of the college was simply misspelt.

Outside the Hindu, Verma chose to discuss the Stephen-Hindu past. “St Stephen’s had its campus at Kinari Bazar from 1881-90. Hindu was established at Kinari Bazar in 1899. Stephen’s moved to the Kashmere Gate campus in 1891; Hindu moved to its Kashmere Gate campus in 1902. In 1941, we moved to our present campus; they moved to theirs in 1953,” he said. The details were summed up with: “That is why, to us, they have been just a college across the road.”

The group also visited the Vice Chancellor’s office premises, Delhi School of Economics and the Faculty of Arts.

Narain conducts specialised walks like a 1911 British Colonial Delhi Walk, 1857 Mutiny Walk and a Ghalib Trail. She can be contacted at 9811330098.

3 November 2009, Indian Express

Martyrs’ houses to be preserved

The state government has announced that memorials and houses of the martyrs of the freedom struggle in the state will be renovated and preserved properly. Stating this here today, Minister for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Hira Singh Gabria said funds amounting to Rs 350 crore would be spent on the said project.

“The state government has prepared a comprehensive project for preservation and renovation of the historical buildings, including the houses of the heroes of the freedom struggle,” Gabria said. The minister, who was in the city to attend a rally organised by the Youth Akali Dal at Grain Market on Sirhind Road, further said in the first phase, Patiala, Nangal, Sultanpur Lodhi and Anandpur Sahib would be covered under the project.

“All the historical buildings in these cities would be renovated and developed from the tourism point of view,” he said..

5 November 2009, Tribune

WINGED VISITORS DESERT DELHI

Loss Of Habitat, Late Monsoon, Pollution Delay Arrival of Birds
This year, the winged winter visitors seem to have delayed their visit to the capital. Experts and birdwatchers have reported that very few migratory birds can be spotted in the city at present. Even the coot, which is normally one of the first few to arrive, is present only in small numbers. While experts say that this is not an indication of a long term trend and that it is still too early to say why this is happening, they believe that the delayed monsoon, loss of habitat and polluted water could be major reasons.

This year, as per the migratory bird census done in Europe, their numbers have been lower and thus fewer birds have reached India. Avid bird watcher K B Singh says that this could only mean that climatic conditions in Europe are still favourable and more birds may migrate as the winter season progresses. ‘‘The number of some species like ferrugenous pochards, mallards and coots is definitely much lower over the years. We have seen very few winter ducks till now,’’ he said.

Experts say that despite lesser migration, Delhi’s fast disappearing water bodies, polluted water and excessive human intervention have already started inhibiting the numbers of migratory birds, the impact of which may be felt shortly. With the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary facing a massive crisis this year, Dr Surya Prakash of the School of Life Sciences at JNU says that Delhi may also face the problem of “leap frog migration”. ‘‘When the habitat changes, birds tend to fly over the spot and go further on. This is what has happened at Bharatpur and may also be happening in Delhi since its water bodies have shrunk considerably. A poor and delayed monsoon could have also adversely affected the microfauna and flora that constitute a major dietary consideration for birds,’’ he said.

He added that the importance of stopover sites was similarly important as migrating birds faced with the dilemma of a stopover site having disappeared may not have any other viable options. ‘‘Without places along the way that provide an adequate food supply for the quick replenishment of fat reserves, shelter from predators, and water, these birds are probably not going to make it,’’ he said.

At the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, one of the few places in the city that migratory birds have arrived, even though lesser in numbers, scientist in-charge Faiyaz Khudsar says that there might have been a change in aquatic plants and insect population because of which some birds are yet to arrive. ‘‘Numbers of tufted pochards and gadwalls have in fact gone up here in the past few years though this year the overall number is low. Northern shoveler and coots are less in number,’’ he said.

Singh feels that with Delhi losing many of its water bodies, Bhadkal Lake almost dry, the swamp at Basai having disappeared, Sultanpur more of an artificial lake and many other water bodies either concretized or turned into agricultural fields, birds like pochards which prefer clean water ponds with lots of reeds are also much lesser in numbers. ‘‘The stretch of Yamuna is dirty due to so much sewage flowing into it. Birds like coots which prefer clean water will also start dwindling with loss of habitat,’’ said Dr Prakash..

5 November 2009, Times City, Times of India

Walled City’s heritage havelis a thing of past

The grand old havelis of Chandni Chowk are being replaced with modern flats and commercial buildings
While there was always a novelty about living in one of the grand old havelis of the Walled City, residents of the area have been gradually moving out. Tired of manoeuvring their way through the choked lanes of Chandni Chowk, they are selling off their ancestral havelis and buying apartments in other parts of the city. The havelis are being brought down by their new owners — mostly builders — to make way for modern flats or commercial spaces.

And even as most of these havelis are a century old, there is no concrete conservation plan in place for such structures. Forty-five-yearold Dr Meenakshi Gautam has fond memories of staying in her family’s haveli in Kucha Pati Ram for 13 years. But her father and his brothers sold it off to a builder two months ago as the haveli was lying vacant for many years.

Said Gautam; ‘‘I live in Gurgaon with my family. It used to be great fun living in Chandni Chowk. We were four families living under one roof. But the area was so cramped that I couldn’t invite my school friends over. We are a middle class family and the cost of conserving the building was huge. We feel the builder will conserve it instead of getting it razed.’’

Those who still live here say that while some of the havelis have simply been abandoned by owners who are now waiting for a good price, many have already been broken down to construct flats. Said Jagjivan Aggarwal, resident of Kucha Kashgiri: ‘‘Most havelis are being brought down. No one wants to live in old structures anymore, as maintaining them involves a lot of investment.’’

The haveli next to Aggarwal’s house has been locked for five years and lack of maintenance has taken its toll on it. The structure has started to crumble. Its owner, Laxmi Narayan, lives in a flat in east Delhi. When contacted, Narayan said: ‘‘I want to keep it locked. As soon as I get a good price for it I will sell it.’’ A Dharamshala across Kucha Kashgiri, which stands out for its carved doorway, is also on sale, according to local builders. However, owner Rajinder Gupta refutes these claims. He said: ‘‘We are happy living here and have no plans of shifting.’’

House number 504 is another building in Kucha Pati Ram with a facade carved with beautiful stones. It’s even listed in MCD’s heritage list. But those who dwell here are in two minds about staying put. Said haveli owner Abhay Gupta: ‘‘We are not getting a good deal to be able to afford an equally spacious living area elsewhere. This haveli covers 800 yards.’’

Gupta’s grandson said since it was a heritage building they weren’t sure if it could be sold. ‘‘We are willing to sell it for a good offer. This is a huge property and if given to a builder, it will get commercialized. We’d rather make smaller flats. But since it’s part of MCD’s heritage list, we don’t know if we can sell or make changes to it,’’ he said.

‘‘No one’s interested in staying in this area anymore. Commercialization has made it impossible to commute here. One would rather move out,’’ said an area resident. A portion of house no 3163 of Mohalla Dastaan, Phatak Nanak Chand, has also been sold to a builder. Rita Sharma, who lives in house no 3162, said: ‘‘We have also heard about it. The plot in front of it has also been bought by builders. There used to be a mammoth haveli in front of our house but that too was sold off four years back.’’

Conservation plans have often been floated by various government agencies to convert these havelis into guesthouses and hotels, but no concrete steps have been taken to ensure the same.

7 November 2009, Times City, Times of India

City Secret - THE BRIDGE ON THE HINDON

This British-era structure is a great getaway for trainspotters as well as those looking to escape the city's madding crowds
About five miles outside Delhi's Eastern limits, a redbrick railway bridge falls in Ghaziabad district. Thanks to a series of six 70-feet-wide arches, it looks like a Roman aqueduct. Spanning the width of the Hindon river, a tributary of the Yamuna, the bridge looks best at dawn. If it's winter, the mist would be drifting over the river.

At 6 am, the traffic on the roads is slow, the train traffic heavy. Sit down on the stairs leading up to the bridge. First, you hear the faint whistle of the rail engine. As the train nears, the weak echo builds up to a boom. Then the climax -- the train is running over the bridge. A minute later, the bridge is back to its solitariness, the river limpid. What was the fuss about???

Looking for vital stats While there are boards and slabs detailing the bridge's length (488 meters) and the highest flood level (recorded in 1978), it is unclear when it was constructed. "Most arched railway bridges were built during the Raj," says KP Singh, an engineer who crosses the structure daily.

Another overpass, more modern, runs parallel to it. Falling on the busy Delhi Ghaziabad route, many super-fast expresses pass one after another on both bridges. This gives the trainspotter a fleeting feel of connection to faraway places the trains come from.

Very poetic Walk under the bridge. Be careful, for here in the road is a steep turn, and an approaching car may not see you. The visual perspective of the arches enlarges from this place. Their reflection on the water might tempt you to write poetry. There's also a view of the Hindon dam. Control yourself Resist from too much romanticising. The river is black with filth, the parapet is scrawled with graffiti, the area is not completely crime-proof, and you could even come across beggars.

"We live in such a crowded city," says Payal Singh, who had driven over from Vasundhara, a nearby suburb. "But here it is so peaceful. You don't feel you are in a city." All around, there is open landscape not yet encroached by apartment complexes and shopping malls. But the quiet is as lasting as the morning dew. Another hour, and the road under the bridge become crowded with muggles. The magic is lost until the next morning..

Where: Near Mohan Nagar Crossing, Ghaziabad
 

9 November 2009, Times City, Times of India
Conservation on Dalai Lama's agenda

The choedhar, or Buddhist religious flag, has five colours -- blue symbolising sky, ochre for earth with white, red and orange in between. Driving past rows of choedhars in this eastern Himalayan town, the 14th Dalai Lama will pitch in for another Buddhist colour -- green.
"His Holiness is deeply concerned about the stress on the Himalayan ecology," former minister T.G. Rimpoche, also the abbot of the Lumla Monastery, 65 km west of here, told HT. "His agenda is to blend spiritualism with conservation, using Tawang as the launch pad for his green mission."

The Eastern Himalayas, part of the highly sensitive Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, are unstable and prone to landslips...

A tree planting ceremony will be held ahead of the first session of the Dalai Lama's sermons on Monday. He'll distribute saplings among 1,500 lamas and devotees.

"We intend to plant these saplings on barren patches around the town," Deputy Commissioner Gamli Padu said.
 
9 November 2009, Hindustan Times
Darkness continues to court city monuments

The romantic `night tourism' project has hit a dark roadblock. As part of the ambitious plan, work on illuminating important heritage monuments in the city was to be completed before the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Two years after it was first announced, not even the first phase of the project is complete.

The India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), which has been entrusted with the task by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is to carry out illumination in the first phase at Rs 23.75 crore. The first phase involved illuminating 13 heritage monuments protected by Archaeological Survey of India.

ITDC has completed work only at Purana Qila; Sher Shah Gate and Masjid (opposite the Delhi zoo); the Subz Burz monument and the Safdarjung's Tomb. The remaining nine monuments were to be illuminated by July 2009. But three months past the promised deadline, work has not even started at the sites. The officials concerned are blaming "technology change" for the delay.

For Safdarjung's monument, the corporation had adopted LED (light emitting diode) technology to throw `milky light' on the monument. But the LED plan has been scrapped for something more modern.

"There has been continuous innovation in LED technology. We are now opting for latest technology -- metal halide lamps," ITDC General Manager (Engineering) Ravi Pandit told Hindustan Times..

Pandit said the work can be expected to be complete by February 2010.
 
9 November 2009, Hindustan Times
Indian study challenges global view on Himalayan glaciers

India on Monday challenged the internationally accepted view that the Himalayan glaciers were receding due to global warming. The glaciers, although shrinking in volume and constantly showing a retreating front, have not in any way exhibited any abnormal annual retreat of the order that some glaciers in Alaska and Greenland have reported, a state-of-the-art review of Glacial Studies, Glacial Retreat and Climate Change said.

Brought out by V.K. Raina, former Deputy Director-General, Geological Survey of India, for the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the discussion paper on the Himalayan glaciers points out that it was premature to make a statement that the glaciers were retreating abnormally because of global warming.

The study says a glacier is affected by a range of physical features and a complex interplay of climatic factors, and it is, therefore, unlikely that the snout movement of any glacier can be claimed to be the result of periodic climate variation until many centuries of observations become available..
 
While glacier movements are primarily due to climate and snowfall, snout movements appear to be peculiar to each glacier, the paper adds.

Releasing the documents, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said that while most Himalayan glaciers were retreating, some were advancing as well. This included the Siachen glacier.

“Some glaciers are retreating at a declining rate, like the Gangotri, and the overall health of the Himalayan glaciers was poor as the debris cover had reached alarming proportions,” he said, citing the paper.

Mr. Ramesh added that there was no conclusive scientific evidence to show that global warming was resulting in the glacial retreats. Contrary to what most believe, there can be no comparison between the Arctic glaciers and the Himalayan glaciers, as the former are at sea-level and the latter at a very high altitude.

According to Mr. Raina, all glaciers under observation in the Himalayan region during the past three decades have shown cumulative negative mass balance (determined by annual snow precipitation). Degradation of the glacier mass has been the highest in Jammu and Kashmir, relatively lower in Himachal Pradesh, even less in Uttarakhand, and the lowest in Sikkim — showing a declining trend from the north-west to the north-east.

Irrespective on latitudinal difference, glacier melt contributes to about 25-30 per cent of the total discharge of glacier ice, with maximum discharge in mid-July and August.

Assuring several steps to study the Himalayan glaciers scientifically and arrive at a final conclusion, Mr. Ramesh said he would bring the discussion paper to the notice of R.K. Pachauri, chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and other agencies that have warned of doom due to melting glaciers.
 
10 November 2009, Hindu
Three more Rajasthan monuments in ASI list

The Archaeological Survey of India has enlisted three more historic monuments in Rajasthan for inclusion in the category of protected buildings. The proposal includes a historic, rare nine-story ‘baori’ (step well) of the 17th or 18th Century situated in Neemrana town of Alwar district. The two other monuments are a historic fort on the hills in Jamwa Ramgarh tehsil of Jaipur district and the Todaraisingh Palace in Tonk district.
 
12 November 2009, Hindu
Insightful journey of Indian art

Rare and exquisite Pala palm leaf manuscript paintings of the 11th century, beautiful and ancient Jaina manuscript paintings of Western India and almost forgotten Bijapur miniatures of Ajanta, this along with a vast archive of over 2,500 selected manuscripts of Indian miniature paintings would come together in a documentary.

Ace photographer, filmmaker and art-historian Benoy K Behl has shot a 26 episode documentary titled The Paintings of India produced by Doordarshan, which would give an in depth understanding of Indian art.

For film has been shot all over the world, covering many districts of 20 Indian states and has also covered 90,000 km around the world. Collection of Indian paintings exhibited in the museums of Switzerland, Ireland, France, the UK and USA have also been filmed in detail.

This all was a result of two years of extensive research of Behl and his team of 25 researchers. Behl informed, “I have gone to various universities in India as well as abroad and delivered lectures on the various subjects of Indian art such as on the murals of India, Indian art history and aesthetics, the sculptures and paintings of India. They in turn have helped me in the preparation of documentary.”

The documentary features masterpieces of the glorious Mughal school of miniatures, paintings from famed manuscripts such as the Hamzanama, Timurnama and Baburnama, the tribal art of India such as Pithora paintings, Warli painting, Saora Painting and Khovar Paintings. A special episode has been featured on the pre-historic rock art of Bhimbhetka, Mirzapur and Eddokal. “My purpose of capturing them is not only presenting the photographic reality but to convey the essence and the harmony which underlies in all of creation,” said Behl, who has also features opinions from world’s leading experts on Indian art history. The documentary will telecast from November 20 on Doordarshan..
 
12 November 2009, Pioneer
New lease of life for Lodi era tombs

State Archaeology Dept to Undertake Renovation of 5 Unprotected Monuments
Five Lodi-period tombs located in the hearts of Zamrudpur and Mohammedpur villages will soon get a facelift. As part of its plans to notify 92 unprotected monuments in the city, the state department of archaeology has zeroed in on these heritage structures for state-level protection. The monuments were recently surveyed by the department and the process for notification has begun.

The tombs are in a dilapidated condition. Since they are located inside an urban village, locals have used these monuments for their personal use. Four of the identified tombs are inside Zamrudpur village, while the fifth is in Mohammedpur village.

A senior official of archaeology department said: ‘‘As no effort was made earlier for the protection and conservation of these tombs, villagers have encroached upon them and defaced their facade. One of the tombs in Zamrudpur is being used as a junkyard while another is being used as a cow shed. A third tomb remain buried behind huge buildings and access to the structure is no longer possible. Another is crushed between two residential buildings and is being misused.''

Not realizing the significance of these heritage structures, inhabitants of Zamrudpur village for years have been misusing them. Access to the tombs is met with stiff resistance. In Mohammedpur, the tomb has been encroached upon and its facade is falling off. ‘‘Even during the survey, police protection was required as locals did not want these monuments to be notified as heritage buildings. Once these are notified, we will not allow locals to encroach misuse the buildings,'' said a senior government official.

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) officials said they were planning to start a massive conservation programme for these monuments once they were notified. "We have completed the survey recently and are preparing the drawings for the notification. The documents have to be authenticated by revenue authorities and then the preliminary notification will come. After that there will be a time period of two months during which objections (if any) will be invited. After getting the nod from L-G, we will issue a gazetted notification,'' said a top official from the department of archaeology.

Officials said they would have to tread carefully on the issue. ‘‘We expect to meet a lot of resistance. Conservation is crucial as these monuments have to be salvaged. We need to re-acquire them soon,'' said an official.

The tombs have been graded A and B in terms of heritage value by INTACH. Department of archaeology has already notified 27 monuments and 12 more will be notified shortly. Six monuments were already on the notification list earlier.
Students walk up to history

The visit to Humayun's Tomb, a world heritage site at Nizamuddin, was a brush with living history.

"This is such a nice and practical way of learning about our history," said Bansal, a class VIII student of Modern School, Barakhamba Road. "Much better than the way it is taught in schools."

For her classmate Naman Gupta, it was an eye-opener.

"The message I am taking home today is that we should conserve and preserve our monuments for future generations," he said.

Bansal and Gupta were part of a mixed group of students from different schools who participated in a heritage walk, part of a project called `My City, My History'.

The project, which was launched on Tuesday, aims to spread awareness about heritage among students.

The project is being organized by FOX History and Entertainment channel in association with the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a panIndian NGO working to conserve heritage.

Similar heritage walks were conducted by INTACH experts at Mehrauli village, Basti Nizamuddin and Humayun's Tomb as part of the programme.

"We are looking forward to inspire young minds to showcase the heritage of their respective cities and become more responsible towards the historical treasures," said Sudha Sadhanand, vice president (Programming) of FOX.

Shobita Punja, INTACH's Director (Heritage Education and Communication Services) said the mission was to create awareness among children.

"Our objective is to spread heritage awareness among schoolchildren," said Punja.

18 November 2009, Hindustan Times

World Heritage week celebrated

In connection with the observance of Wrold Heriatge Week. Adbi Kunj and Himalayan Heritage Museum jointly held a special heritage related literary cum poetic meet and a heritage photo exhibition at New Shastri Memorial H/S School Talab Tillo. The meet was presided over by Thakur Kishen Singh and the proceedings were conducted by Talib Kashmiri, general secretary Adbi Kunj T. R. Mahajan was the chief guest.

Sham Talib, president Adbi Kunj in his welcome address highlighted the significance of observing today’s heritage function and said that Himalayan Heritage Museum, has been doing a great job in preserving the items of heritage value in Jammu on their own without much external assistance.

T. R. Mahajan expressed the view that the wrok being done by S. Inder Singh in this behalf is highly commendable.

Museum Inder Singh, Chairman HHM thank Adbi Kunj having extended all cooperation from time to time in propagating the basic aims and objectives of his organization.

On this occasion a special heritage related poetic meet was also held in which Jaswant Singh, Tayyab Bharti, Raj Kumar Sehgal, Dr. Ram Pal Sharma, Prof Ved Prakash Gupta and Ayodhya Rani Gamkhwar read their poems and songs. The meet concluded with vote of thanks presented by K. K. Shakir..

25 November 2009, Kashmir Times

Public ire over excavation of historical embankments

Due to the excavation of embankments by a section of miscreants near the historic Rongmahal Borgarah constructed during the rule of Ahom kings, there is mounting resentment among the people around the Garah specially Numali-Jalahgarah and other.

It may be mentioned that in North Guwahati, there are 13 historical embankments (Garah) some of which have already been destroyed by illegal occupants.

The members of the Rong-mahal Borgarah Protection Committee, an NGO of the area, has submitted a memorandum in this regard to the DC, Kamrup to take necessary steps and a copy of the memorandum has also been sent to the local MLA, Dr H.B. Sarma...

25 November 2009, Assam Tribune

Walk in Shah Jahan’s footsteps

New Delhi: It is an attempt to bring the past to the present. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is proposing to revive the historic route between Jama Masjid and Red Fort known as the Shahi Path as part of the Jama Masjid Redevelopment Plan. The civic agency plans to make a pedestrian walkway along this route which will pass underneath Subhash Marg Road and will facilitate free movement of tourists between the two monuments.

Said an MCD official: ‘‘The walkway will allow a tourist to come out of the eastern gateway of Jama Masjid (near Kasturba Hospital) and enter the Red Fort compound. It will be made along a historic route that existed before 1857. Looking at the large number of tourists visiting both monuments on a daily basis, we decided to revive the route so people didn’t have to fight their way through heavy traffic, especially during Commonwealth Games 2010.’’ According to conservationists, this route was used by Emperor Shah Jahan to visit the mosque on Fridays. The route was done away with after 1857 when the British built various structures around the area between the two monuments.

The civic agency also plans to restore a chowk on this route known as the Saadullah Chowk. The plan to make the walkway has been given conceptual approval by Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) but a detailed project report still has to be submitted by MCD to the commission for approval, said a DUAC member.

Said Pradeep Sachdeva, consultant for the Jama Masjid Redevelopment Plan: ‘‘We are in talks with various stakeholders involved with the redevelopment of Jama Masjid and we hope to start work soon. The pedestrian walkway will help revive an important link of history.’’

Conservationists though have expressed concern that construction of a walkway so close to the two monuments might have a negative impact on them. Said an expert:::

26 November 2009, Times City, Times of India

Mayapuri lake is a water body, revival likely: Govt

Almost seven months after the Delhi High Court slammed the Delhi government and sought explanation from Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta for declaring that the Public Works Department-owned Mayapuri lake in Naraina was ‘non-existent’, the government has finally accepted the lake as a water body that would now be revived.

The Delhi government presented an affidavit in the High Court on Wednesday accepting the lake as a ‘water body’, before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Murlidhar.

In a meeting on the ‘revival of water bodies’ chaired by the Chief Secretary earlier this month, the PWD said “the Chief Secretary has directed that action may be initiated for the revival of the water body at Naraina”.

The issue involves two disputed water bodies in the city — the Mayapuri lake and the Jahangirpuri marshland. Based on environmentalist Vinod Kumar Jain’s application, the court had, earlier this year, asked the government to submit a report on the two water bodies.

Referring to High Court’s order in 2007 for revival of various lakes and ponds in Delhi, Jain had filed a contempt case against the government.

“The government has accepted in court that the Mayapuri Lake would be revived as per the nine-point charter set down by the Chief Secretary. The Irrigation department has said that work on 154 water bodies has already been completed; work on 38 water bodies would be finished by December, while work on 62 more would be finished by March 2010,” VK Jain told Newsline.

Of the 81 water bodies owned by the Delhi Development Authority, work on 58 water bodies has been completed.

The case pertaining to the Jahangirpuri marshland could not be heard on Wednesday. It has been decided that the Delhi government would now present its report on it on December 16.

26 November 2009, Indian Express

Festivals to nurture conservation values

The month-long fast of Ramzan in Haryana would soon include avoidance of plastic and youth will pledge to save Planet Earth by breaking the earthen pot on the occasion of Janmashatmi. Similarly, on Christmas you could rejoice in listening to energy carols sung by schoolchildren who will also vow to protect trees on Raksha Bandhan by observing Vriksha Bandhan.

These innovative ideas are included in Bal Urja Rakshak Mission (BURM) launched by Haryana Government in Gurgaon on pilot project basis. The Government has planned to induct energy and environment conservation values in the major festivals of all the religious communities of the State through Urja Rakshaks, teenagers sensitised on energy conservation, renewable energy, climate change, global warming and sustainable development related issues.

"There is a great need to make the future generation aware of the issues and options concerning modest and efficient use of energy resources and environment conservation. The natural resources like petroleum fuel, water, and greenery and water reservoirs need immediate strategic steps of conservation," said Rajendra Kataria, the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Gurgaon. The administration has picked up four students, two each from IX and XI standards from 25 schools of the district to train them as energy leaders who in turn will train 10 students of their class as Urja Rakshaks (Energy Soldiers). The training in the schools would be monitored by one mentor teacher and an Urja Mitra, a friend from the community to support the programme. The energy soldiers will form a team to organise various events in the schools on energy conservation, environment protection and sustainable development.

"The Urja Rakshaks have been provided with a resource kit containing a handbook on the issue, badge, T-shirts and caps. They will also be trained for energy audit in houses and official premises," added Kataria, who is also the chairman of district project implementation committee. After the pilot project in Gurgon the project would be implemented in all the 21 districts of the State by March 2011.

The project also includes various competitions among schoolchildren throughout the year. The energy leader will get Rs 100 as incentive while Urja Rakshaks would get Rs 50 per month along with the resource kit. The Govt has initially allocated Rs 4.44/annum for the project. Under this mission schools shall observe a day as Urja Din (Energy Day), December 14 of every year as National Energy Conservation Day and August 20 as Akshay Urja Diwas..

26 November 2009, The Pioneer

Encroachers evicted, FACELIFT ONN

Conservation work at Lodi era monument Bara Lao Ka Gumbad has been put on the fast track, highlighting its original architecture
For several decades, Bara Lao Ka Gumbad in posh Vasant Vihar served as house for a family. Now, a year and a half after the government evicted the encroachers from this 15th century monument, built during the Lodi period, the process for conservation and upkeep of this structure has been put on the fast track. Conservation work at the gumbad has also revealed a hidden staircase and traces of exquisite blue-tile work on its walls.

The monument has been declared protected by Delhi government’s department of archaeology and for the first time, this neglected structure is getting a facelift from INTACH Delhi Chapter. In the process of clearing dirt and brick masonry around the monument, officials also stumbled onto a staircase leading to the gumbad, which experts suggest could have been one of the main entrances to the gumbad. ‘‘When we removed construction carried out by the encroachers, a portion of the ground was found hollow. This led us to a staircase,’’ said a senior official.

Experts say conservation of the monument is no easy task. One of the major hurdles is removing the unwanted vegetation growth on the surface of the monument and all around it. ‘‘We cannot just pull out the plants as their roots have penetrated deep within the structure. To avoid damage to the monument, we have to first trace the roots and see how deep they go and then deal with it accordingly,’’ said an official. There are also eight huge trees growing on the boundary wall around Bara Lao Ka Gumbad. Officials said permission has been sought for cutting them so the the boundary wall can be restored.

The conservation work on the monument has also thrown light on its original architecture. ‘‘Traces of blue tiles have been found on the dome but it is unclear whether the whole dome was originally built with blue tile or just portions of it. There are also evidences of blue tiles between kangoras,’’ said a conservationist.

The kangoras around the base of the dome and the parapet are missing in several points and INTACH officials said these would be recreated as per the original design and architecture.

Inside the dome, workers are busy clearing the dirt and repairing the damage inflicted on the monument by the encroachers. The walls have been whitewashed which will have to be chemically treated and on the mehrab side, the encroachers had broken the original wall to rent out the space to tenants. The ceiling has years of dust and filth accumulated on it. ‘‘There is a huge amount of muck and soot on the ceiling and when we started cleaning it, we discovered floral patterns on the centre of the dome and a painted surface. These could not be seen before,’’ said an official.

Apart from conservation work on Bara Lao ka Gumbad that is expected to take up to six months more time, INTACH officials are also going to excavate the site of the missing tomb of Baradari located just a few feet away from Bara Lao. ‘‘There is evidence that we could find remains of a canopy there or some other remains. Excavation work at Baradari tomb site will take place in the last phase of the conservation work at Bara Lao and we hope to find some archaeological evidence there,’’ said an INTACH official.

In February 2008, TOI had reported how the 15th century monument was home to three generations of a family for the last 50 years and converted into a comfortable living quarters complete with electricity connections and water supply. The law finally caught up with them when DDA and Delhi government’s State Department of Archaeology got rid of the encroachments in the monument and razed all the unauthorized structures including several small hutments around it that had been built over the years.

The historical gumbad is now on its way to get a complete facelift as part of an MoU signed with the Delhi government to conserve 92 heritage structures before the Commonwealth Games

27 November 2009, Times City, Times of India

‘Spruce up monuments’

The Centre has informed Parliament that there are 174 monuments in Delhi accorded the national importance status, while 46 monuments have been identified for elaborate sprucing up before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for planning and parliamentary affairs V. Narayanasamy said these monuments comprise mosques, tombs, forts, minars and baolis.

27 November 2009, Asian Age

Delhi must wait to turn heritage city

LEGAL HURDLE NO provision in ASI to declare such status

The idea of turning Delhi into a heritage city in time for the Commonwealth Games 2010 was first mooted in 2005. The proposal is likely to get delayed..

Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy, who is also incharge of the ministry of culture, on Thursday, informed Rajya Sabha that there was no provision called `heritage city' under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

"There is no provision called Heritage City and only heritage sites, historical ancient monuments and archaeological sites have been mentioned in the Act," he said in a reply to a question tabled by DMK MP Kanimozhi.

In 2008, Delhi government's Department of Archaeology had signed an agreement with Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a conservation body, for developing the Capital as a heritage city...

"The memorandum was a step towards development of the Capital's cultural heritage to get the coveted status of a `Heritage City'," said a senior government official on condition of anonymity.
Delhi has more than 1,200 heritage structures and monuments. According to the rules, only the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) can apply to the UNESCO for a `World Heritage City' status for Delhi.

"We are aware that there is no provision in the Act for a `Heritage City'. Certain changes are needed. But we are lobbying for it," said AGK Menon, convenor of INTACH's Delhi chapter.
INTACH would do the groundwork to facilitate government agencies. "The advantages this status would bring are huge, but it will need a change in attitude," Menon said.

27 November 2009, Hindustan Times