New Delhi: Even though World Heritage Day on April 18 offers an opportunity to create awareness about the diversity of heritage and the efforts required to protect and conserve the monuments, hundreds of historical edifices of the national capital have little to cheer about the day.

Several historical and heritage structures here are on the brink of collapse. Out of the over 1,000 historical monuments, 776 historical buildings are lying unnoticed and vulnerable to encroachments, vandalism and misuse by trespassers.

Following the lack of interest and conservation efforts by the concerned departments, the monuments have either been encroached upon or are losing their existence.

There are 1,200 heritage buildings in the historic city of Delhi, out of which just 174 come under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Besides, under the Delhi Ancient Monuments Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 2004 (came into effect in 2005), the government has to conserve and protect 250 monuments.

Under a pact signed with the government, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage) was meant to aid the work in protecting heritage. Of these, 92 monuments were to be protected and conserved in a phased manner. However, following the technical glitches, the work is still pending. Apart from this, there are 776 monuments, which remain vulnerable as no decision has been taken yet as to which department would look after them.

Although the Delhi government has begun restoration work to conserve the treasured monuments holding heritage value, still a lot needs to be done in this direction.
Furthermore, there seems to be no ray of hope for them in the coming future, as the Municipal Corporation, which was assigned the task for identifying the neglected historical monuments has not yet completed the survey.

According to the Delhi Chapter of INTACH convenor, A G K Menon, “the government has initiated work for the restoration of the monuments but concrete efforts are still required. MCD was tasked with conducting survey of the unprotected monuments and even after 11 years it has not yet completed its work”.

Deputy Commissioner of City Zone MCD Krishna Kumar said, “The efforts are underway. Along with the survey of the monuments, efforts for their conservation are being made. An authority comprising Shahjahanbad Development Board, ASI and MCD has been constituted for the protection of sites coming under the respective departments.”