| the great Indian snakes-and-ladders,
| being played out between the two vocations
It is not easy to get on to the Unesco World Heritage list. An
international committee decides, in accordance with exacting standards
prescribed for each site, and a country can only nominate a single site
every year. If alterations are made to the site, a red alert is sounded,
like an Interpol alert, and the site is dropped.
This nearly happened to the archaeological ruins at Vijayanagar at
Hampi, when the local government built two bridges across the river
Tungabhadra. But local sentiments and international opinion prevailed.
The bridges remain incomplete and Hampi is off the red alert. It is an
indicator of what is happening in Delhi, where conservation is in a mess.
Only two sites in the Capital are on the World Heritage list, the
Qutab-Mehrauli and Humayun’s Tomb areas. The Red Fort-Jama
Masjid-Chandni Chowk trio has been battling for the badge but it can’t
make it because Unesco standards insist that the Red Fort must have a
clear buffer zone. Too many nasties are involved in this cramped
inner-city area: the army, for one, which was chucked out of the Red
Fort after a court battle. But low-minded MPs, MLAs and Wakf Board
members fighting for Hindu-Muslim vote banks continue to squabble in the
spaces around the Fort.
Far worse is the battle for Humayun’s Tomb, where the city government
has proposed a Rs 800-crore, 2.4-km Jumna bridge with multiple under-
and over-passes to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which will effectively
destroy the precincts of historical Purana Qila, Nizamuddin, Delhi Zoo,
Sundar Nursery, Lodi Gardens and Safdarjung Tomb. At the 16-member Delhi
Urban Arts Commission meeting on May 22, chaired by Charles Correa, and
the minutes of which were emailed to me, there were loud protests from