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Posted On : 20 May, 2015  Source : PTI  Place : New Delhi 
Demarcate area of Mehrauli Archaeological Park & Waqf land: HC
Delhi High Court today directed DDA to demarcate the area of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park in South Delhi from the Waqf land there and ensure that no authorised occupants of the area were removed.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva gave the direction while hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) which has sought that the Archaeological Park, spread over 100 acres and having about 80 monuments, be "preserved, protected and maintained ".

The court directed INTACH to hand over to Delhi Development Authority (DDA), a list of monuments in the area to facilitate the demarcation exercise to be carried out by the land owning agency.

"If you (DDA) are unable to do the exercise on ground, at least do it on paper," the bench told the counsel for the land owning agency.

It passed the order after the Waqf board moved the court alleging that authorities were trying to disconnect power to the homes of tenants on its land under the garb of removing encroachments from the Archaeological Park.

The court also made it clear that it has not ordered demolition of any structure and only directed that the monuments be preserved and freed of encroachment.

It also said that "under garb of removing people from the park, you can't remove people from waqf land" and listed the matter for further hearing on May 27.

The court on last date had remarked that if encroachers are not removed from Mehrauli Archaeological Park they could take over the nearby Qutub Minar as well.

INTACH in its plea has said "the monuments of the park range from grand structures like Quli Khan's tomb, Balban's Tomb, Maulana Jamali's mosque and tomb and Rajon ki Baoli, to several minor monuments that together constitute a huge cultural asset and potential heritage recreation space for the city."

The NGO has said the park had been encroached at several places and was under constant threat of further encroachments.

It alleged that an ASI notified monument - Tomb of Khan Shahid - has been "whitewashed and defaced", which it claimed was a precursor to encroachment.

"The picturesque qualities of the park are threatened by the multi-storey constructions along the western edge..., and its ambience is rendered unpleasant by the use of the park for sanitation by those living in Mehrauli and within the several monuments in the park that have been illegally taken over for residential or other purposes," the plea has said.

The NGO in its plea, apart from seeking protection of the monuments in the park from encroachment and vandalism, has also sought that they be restored to their original state.

It has also sought "finalisation and implementation of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for the entire Mehrauli Archaeological Park, for its effective management".

It has also sought that the area be designated as a buffer zone of the Qutub Minar Complex and bringing it "under one appropriate conservation authority and eliminating the current confusion created by the multiplicity of stakeholders" 

The NGO has claimed that "several drains have been laid out in the archaeological park in close proximity to the monuments without any proper feasibility study. This has endangered the structural stability of several structures." 

"Also due to a casual approach and ad-hoc constructions, most of the drains have been rendered ineffective and the park continues to be flooded with the waste and sewage of the Mehrauli village area," the plea has said.