Corporation started repair work without the approval of ASI as the drain began to overflow, thus raising concern over the safety of the structure
A trench dug up to repair a clogged drain across Mainguard Gate, a protected monument under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India, has given rise to concern among heritage lovers in the city.
One of the city’s famous landmarks, Mainguard Gate is believed to have originally formed part of the fortifications around the Rock Fort established by the Nayak rulers and developed by subsequent rulers, including the British.
Over the past few days, the corporation has dug up a ditch, five to six feet in depth, right across the gate to take up the repair work, raising the hackles of conservationists who fear for the safety of the structure.
Enquiries with the corporation revealed that the civic body has not taken the permission of the ASI as the drain started to overflow and repairs had to be done quickly.
“Any move to make alterations or inclusions in the area without the clearance from the ASI is highly arbitrary. The corporation should have obtained clearance from and got its plans approved by the ASI. What if the ancient structure suffers some damage? Who is answerable?” wondered N.Ramakrishnan, founder secretary, MGR Nalpani Mandram.
Mr. Ramakrishnan said he has petitioned Corporation Commissioner V.P.Thandapani and Collector Jayahsree Muralidharan urging the importance of protecting the historic monuments in the city. When contacted, Mr. Thandapani said the drain already existed and the corporation has only taken up repair.
“Since the drain was clogged and started overflowing, we had to take up the work. We are doing the work very carefully and it will be completed as quickly as possible,” he said.
The ASI had renovated Mainguard Gate and established a small site museum adjacent to the structure in 2005.
There have been demands for removal of encroachments around the structure and a ban on commercial activity by dozens of traders and vendors beneath and around the monument. ASI rules prohibit new construction or commercial activity within a 100-metre radius of the monument.
At the time of the renovation, the ASI had written to the district authorities seeking removal of encroachments, a demand which is yet to be addressed. Subsequently, the ASI is reported to have raised objections to a move to construct a foot overbridge close to the monument forcing the corporation to give up the proposal.