NEW DELHI: Prominent historic buildings in the national capital — Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and Safdarjung’s Tomb— are likely to open their gates for visitors with strict social distancing and safety protocols next month with the ministry of culture exploring possibilities to reopen heritage sites and museums under Archeological Survey of India (ASI) by mid-June.
The ministry has already started working on the post coronavirus lockdown standard operating procedures (SoP) to be followed for allowing tourists’ entry for which a discussion was held with survey officials recently.
“The ministry was in touch with senior ASI officials with regard to reopening of archaeological sites and 50 affiliated museums. But before that, we will require a major set up at protected sites. The proposal to install disinfectant tunnels, sanitisers, marking for social distancing and proper protective gears for staff and security personnel are under consideration. The problem is with popular monuments, which receive high footfall,” said an official. He added that SoP might be released this week.
According to the officials, either June 1 or June 15 is being considered for the reopening of heritage sites. “Date has not been finalised yet. June 1 is not possible given the scenario as no preparation is in place. Based on the daily average number of visitors, arrangements will be made at specific sites. No visitors will be allowed without a mask and thermal screening,” said another ASI official.
On March 17, the ASI announced to shut all 3,691 protected buildings including 143 ticketed sites till March 31 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. All of them remain shut.
“The decision will come from the ministry. When monuments and other sites were shut, it was announced by the ministry. ASI was not kept in the loop. The minister held a meeting and an announcement was made. June 15 is being discussed for the reopening,” said the ASI official.
Over 170 structures under ASI
In Delhi, there are about 170 historical structures with ASI and 13 of these including Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Safdar Jung’s Tomb, Purana Quila, and Hauz Khas have paid entry.