By Kunal Basu:
Delhi is a very beautiful city with a lot of historic importance. The Red Fort is located in central Delhi. Towards its south, lies the majestic India Gate. Beautiful in its approach and design, this product of Lutyen’s Delhi was designed to pay homage to those unknown soldiers who laid down their lives during the First World War. There are other monuments such as the Viceroy Church and the Baradari at Sadhna Enclave. But these are only two of the many monuments whose historic worth is not known to the ordinary Delhi resident. Honestly, it is not even surprising.
As most residents of Delhi are well-acquainted with Red Fort and India Gate, it becomes difficult for them to recognise the fact that the city has many other historical gems. Both India Gate and Red Fort are preserved the way historical monuments should be.
Some time back, when I was returning from work, I happened to cross the Old Fort area. To my dismay, I saw that the historical monument was in very bad shape. Loose bricks could be seen jutting out from the walls of this archaeological structure.
As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958), the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has the legal responsibility to protect and preserve all historical monuments that come under its purview. Even the official website of ASI lists out some 174 historical monuments that the ASI is supposed to be looking after. However, after looking at the dismal condition of the Old Fort, it seems a laughable idea that the ASI has taken adequate steps towards protecting every valuable historical monument.
According to a report by DNA in March 2015, parts of the Old Fort have been encroached upon by illegal occupiers.
In April 2016, the entry fees of more than 100 monuments under ASI had been increased. Will this eventually prevent the decadence of monuments that were grand and splendid once upon a time?
Time has come for us, the people, to take steps to protect our historical monuments. Our medieval monuments in the capital city speak volumes about the historical importance of Delhi. If the ASI cannot discharge its statutory duties under the Act, then it is as good as being non-existent. For now, let’s try to act as one voice and preserve Delhi’s historical monuments for future generations.