ASI seeks police help against encroachers in Agra

July 24th, 2008 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, July 24 (IANS) The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has sought police help to drive away encroachers who have become a threat to the survival of many a historical monument in the city of Taj Mahal. Agra’s superintending archaeologist D.N. Dimri has appealed to the city district magistrate to help save the heritage structures, threatened by illegal structures.

Dimri said police help was not available even after writing so many letters to them.

According to the 1958 Ancient Monuments Conservation Act, permission has to be taken from the ASI for any new construction within a radius of 100 metres of historical monuments, and no excavation or mining work can be done within 200 metres of historical monuments — in respect of world heritage monuments, the restriction is 500 metres.

Agra once had more than 200 small and big historical monuments that were declared protected but now the number has come down to 50.

Conservationists blame the police.

“They (police) have not been able to deter the encroachers who have managed to raise structures after clearing the older buildings or ruins. The district authorities shall take remedial measures before all is lost,” said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

In a foreword to a book by Lucy Peck titled “Agra: The Architectural Heritage”, Ebba Koch, the famous writer of “The complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Garden of Agra” (2006), writes: “Today, the riverfront city has largely disappeared - what remains are a few sites and sporadic ruined walls and pavilions. Mughal Agra appears as a utopia of the past.”

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