History & Culture

HC tells DDA to share ‘secret’ map with ASI

DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to protect, preserve and promote tourism in Delhi, “the only capital city in India with a long history”.

The court made the observation while taking a strong note of the inability expressed by the ASI to protect the Tughlaqabad Fort from illegal encroachment.

The High Court was surprised to know that the DDA was not sharing with ASI an aerial survey map of Delhi, including the Tughlaqabad Fort, as the same was said to be a “secret and restricted” document.

A Bench headed by Justice B.D. Ahmed was hearing a matter pertaining to preservation of Tughlaqabad Fort, which was declared a protected monument and the preservation of which was to be monitored by the High Court as per the directions of the Supreme Court.

The ASI on Wendesday told the court that it was not able to do much as all inhabitants within the Tughlaqabad Fort area had got a stay on eviction after 1993.

It said it needed the map of 1993 to superimpose it on the present-day map and see where people were living in and around the fort back then.

The archaeological department told the court that the DDA was not sharing the map or allowing it to be scanned or superimposed, saying the same was a secret and restricted document.

“What is so secret about the aerial map? It will take away all your problems, right?” remarked the court as none of the counsel for DDA appeared to know why the map was not being shared by the land-owning agency.

The Tughlaqabad fort was placed under protection of ASI in 1995.

“We direct the DDA to produce the map pertaining to the Tughlaqabad fort area on the next date of hearing and also to supply its digital copy to the court. After the map is received, the SDM, Kalkaji, shall carry out a demarcation through total station method by superimposing present status on the 1993 map within six weeks thereafter,” the Bench ordered.

During the hearing, the court told the ASI to “protect, preserve and promote tourism. In fact, the whole idea is to improve tourism. People come and see the beauty of Delhi.”

“We were discussing the capital cities in India the other day and none of the city has a long history like Delhi. Mumbai does not have a long history, Calcutta does not have. Even Patliputra does not have. But Delhi has. So you preserve whatever is left,” the court told the ASI.

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