NEW DELHI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will soon reinforce parts of the internal fortification of Red Fort, which has suffered damaged over the years as it was hidden behind the structures raised by Indian Army during its about five-decade-long stay inside the 17th-century Mughal citadel. In the first phase, ASI will undertake the restoration of a patch from Chhatta Chowk to Salimgarh, which is about 500 metres in length.
NK Pathak, Superintending Archaeologist in the Delhi Circle of ASI, said that the tendering process was on and the work was likely to begin after the Independence Day celebrations.“Internal portions of the wall were concealed behind the structures built during the last five-six decades. They have been removed, exposing portions of the fortification, unseen so far. It has vegetation growing over it, which needs to be cleaned,” he said.
The fort, spread over an area of about 255 acres, is enclosed by 2.41 kilometres of defensive walls. Punctuated by turrets and bastions, the height of the wall varies from 18 metres in the east, along the Ring Road, to 33 metres on the other sides, next to Nishad Raj Marg, Netaji Subhash Marg, and Syama Prasad Mukherjee Marg.
The ASI had identified 400 ‘unwanted’ buildings - barracks, residential quarters, storerooms, shops, canteens, washing units, toilet blocks and workshops - built by the Army after it took over the fort when the British left the country. British forces had stayed put in the fort for 90 years.
The Army vacated the historic fort in 2003 when restoration and beautification work was initiated under the aegis of then Union culture minister Jagmohan. The ASI then decided to remove the later structures.
The ASI is also replacing the bitumen layer on around 1.2-kilometres of roads, from the fort’s Dilli Gate to the CISF office near Baoli (step-well), with Delhi Quartzite stone. The repair of Chhatta Chowk’s vaulted roof is set to begin later this month. The mending job is required to prevent seepage of water to protect wall paintings on its inner surface, which were conserved recently.
“Relaying of the road is almost finished. Only 5 per cent of work is left. Chhatta Chowk’s roof repairing will begin after August 15,” said Pathak. Officials said the restoration of Mumtaz Mahal, originally part of the imperial seraglio, is also nearing completion.