Qila Mubarak faces another threat – Shopkeepers adding floors

The issue is likely to erupt into a major controversy with the local authorities sending an SOS to the Director, Archives, to stop the construction work. One shop had already been constructed despite objection to its construction by the Assistant Conservator here. Another 36 shop owners may start construction work on the second floor of their shops any moment as they have bought the shops from the Municipal Corporation and applied to be given sanction for the construction of the second storey by submitted the relevant site plans. This will mean a part of the fort's facade will change for ever.

Already part of its beauty has been blemished by the shops constructed along its wall. If further construction comes up on top of these shops a majority of the Qila exterior would not be visible. As it is the Qila comes into view suddenly as the area adjoining it constitute the oldest bazar of the city and all available space has been put tocommercial purpose.

Though t of the shops along the exterior walls of the Qila are owned by the Archives Department, there are around 35 shops which were owned by the Municipal Corporation which had rented them out after the Independence. As the corportation was not able to earn much revenue from the shops due to the low rents, it has sold them to the occupants who have got them registered in their name. Following this t of the shop owners want to construct the first floor on top of their shops and have submitted site plans so that they can be given sanction by the corporation. In case of Mr Sharan Singh, the site plan for construction was sanctioned few days earlier. He immediately started to do construction following which Archives Assistant Conservator Yograj took action and issued him a letter that this was violative of archaeological bylaws and that the construction activity should be stopped immediately. He also informed his superiors in Chandigarh about the construction activity.
Mr Yograj told TNS today that though the cloth merchant had promised not torestart construction of the shop on the first floor, he constructed a toilet of the shop last night. Mr Yograj said he had again sent an SOS to the Director, Archives as he apprehended that other shop owners would also start building their first floors on the same pattern if this was allowed to go unchecked. He said the construction was violative of the Archaeological Act as it would pose a hinderance to viewing the fort and would also weaken its wall further.

Shop owners, however, say they are within their legal rights to construct their shops as they had purchased them outright from the corporation which had allowed the construction activity. They said they had paid a sum of Rs 8,000 per square yard for the shops purchased by them and that the corporation should have seen the heritage angle before selling the shops to them. Corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang said the corporation had not received any objection from the Archives Department regarding construction of the shops. He said the corportation was open to the idea of discussing the issue with the department if the heritage of the city would be effected. He however, said according to his information the shops would be constructed adjoining a side wall which was not beautified.

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