Stuck for proximity to Agrasen Ki Baoli, a heritage impact assessment of the site is awaited

What was meant to be a boon for office-goers in New Delhi remains a gaping hole in the earth surrounded by a makeshift fence. Rain water sits in puddles in this piece of land that was slapped with a “stop-work” notice by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) almost two years ago.

While its counterparts, the multi-level car parking projects in Sarojini Nagar and Baba Kharak Singh Marg, have been built, tried and recently even tested, the multi-level automated parking lot project on Kasturba Gandhi Marg is yet to rise from the earth.

The latest in the New Delhi Municipal Council’s long wait for clearance from the National Monuments Authority (NMA) is that a heritage impact assessment of the site has been requested by the latter since the site lies within 300 metres from the Agrasen Ki Baoli, a step well that is also a protected monument.

The NMA’s concerns over whether the parking lot will affect the recharge of the ‘baoli’ in the future has been criticised on grounds that the site is already surrounded by high-rise buildings on all sides.

In June, during the inauguration of the swanky facility in Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi Municipal Council Chairperson Archna Arora had announced that work on the Kasturba Gandhi Marg parking project will be started soon.

But the civic body continues to wait to start work on its 13-floor facility designed to accommodate more than 1,500 cars. “The NMA had asked the ASI to conduct a heritage impact assessment study,” said Ms. Arora. “We will just have to wait for the clearance. We have completed all the formalities. Now it is not in our hands.”

The civic body officials insisted that the issue is being dragged along needlessly and the construction of the parking lot will not affect the historical step-well. “The baoli falls on the other side of a wide road with cluster of buildings already existing between it and the proposed site of parking,” said a senior NDMC official. “It is hard to understand how construction at the site, which is some distance away, can affect water recharge.”

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