Complaining about multiple civic agencies’ failure to keep a portion of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park clean, some residents of Ward 7 in Mehrauli sat on a dharna outside their apartment complex on Sunday.
A part of the park -- which boasts monuments like the ruins of the tomb of the 13 Century Delhi ruler Ghiyasuddin Balban, the 16 Century Jamali-Kamali mosque, the 19 Century Metcalfe’s canopy and the ruins of several other Lodhi-Mughal era structures -- has manicured lawns and footpaths where “heritage walks” have become popular with tourists.
But another part along Dada Bari Road adjoining Qutab Green Apartments has only a low, at places discontinuous, wall that separates the park’s boundaries from residential structures and supporting commercial activities. A path leading into the park from Dada Bari Road is littered with malba, plastic waste and several unidentified archaeological ruins which no one has bothered to restore.
The two dozen-odd residents who sat on the dharna claimed they had launched a clean up-drive seven months ago. They blame the condition of this side of the park on the multiplicity of agencies claiming ownership of land but neglecting the responsibility for maintenance.
While the DDA runs the archaeological park, the monuments are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Delhi Wakf Board also owns cemetery land within the park. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation is responsible for clearing waste from Dada Bari Road.
The residents’ main grouse seems to be a festering garbage dump located right outside the park boundary. They also alleged that over the years encroachers have steadily grabbed land here, on which several ancient structures once stood, but the authorities have not evicted them.
The protesters claimed that the DDA -- which isresponsible for maintenance of the park -- had assured them in May 2012 that an inspection by officials from the ASI as well as the Delhi Government’s Department of Archaeology would be held to clean up the area and restore monuments but nothing has happened on this front.
The protesters are demanding that the multiple agencies work with the residents in ensuring continuous maintenance and monitoring of the park, that the height of the boundary wall in this area be raised to prevent further encroachment, and the removal of the garbage dump.