Restoring the Red Fort

The ugly tin sheds, toilet blocks and hutments which were built by the Indian Army during its stay in the Red Fort from 1947 to 2003, are finally on their wayout. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to demolish the structures as part of its conservation plans for the citadel. It also plans to reopen the drains along Red Fort’s walls which had been closed by the British. Over 100 structures that have no archaeological or historical merit have been identified in the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) prepared for Red Fort. ‘‘These structures were built by the Army while they lived inside the Red Fort complex from Independence to December 2003. They will be phased out in the next few weeks,’’ said a senior ASI official. Two canteens within the fort grounds will also be removed. According to conservationists, spaces like these have been an eyesore for tourists visiting the complex, which boasts of buildings from three different eras — including the Mughal and British periods. ‘‘The Army built many structures — small hutments, tin sheds, toilet blocks — to house soldiers in the fort. For conservation purposes, these structures need to be removed and the space they are occupying opened up,’’ said a senior official. Once the structures have been removed, the Diwan-iam and Rang Mahal will be renovated and the fort’s museums will be shifted to the British-era barracks. ASI also plans to open the six-foot deep drains that run along the citadel’s outer walls. According to sources, they were blocked by the British when they took over the fort after the 1857 uprising. ‘‘The water trapped in the drains is stagnating at various points, triggering capillary action in the fort walls. During the Mughal era, drainage ensured that not a single drop of water entered the Red Fort. However, the British wanted huge lawns so they had the drains blocked,’’ said an official. ASI officials say the blocked drainage has also damaged the two gateways to the fort — Lahore Gate and Delhi Gate. ‘‘The blocked drainage causes water to seep inside the foundation of the fort wall and the two gates. This weakens the structure and the problem had to be addressed urgently,’’ said officials. Conservation work on the Red Fort — the second most visited city monument after the Qutub Minar — is expected to kickstart once CCMP gets the final nod from the SC-appointed expert

No comments: