New Delhi: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has removed 25 lakh kilograms of soil and dust that had accumulated on the roof of the Red Fort over the years. At many places, the team found layers of dust as high as two metres. ASI said that the work was completed in the nick of time because the ramparts of the fort were at a risk of caving in under the weight of the accumulated dust. This is the same front portion of the fort from where Prime Ministers deliver their speeches on Independence Day.
Plaster covering paintings to be removed
This repair programme will go on for another seven months. Drinking water facility and public conveniences will also be made available under the programme. Apart from this, the team is also going to remove layers of plaster from several walls inside the fort that have Mughal-era paintings behind them. These layers of plaster will be removed gradually so that the paintings are not damaged. The cost of the entire project is estimated to be around Rs 60 crores.
NK Pathak, in-charge of the Delhi Circle of the ASI, said: “The walls of the fort were getting damaged due to the moisture content of the soil deposited on Lahori Gate. So far, 25 lakh kgs of soil has been removed from both sides of the gate. Sandstone slabs will now be installed at the gate, so that moisture doesn’t enter the wall.”
About a hundred years ago, the British had soil dumped around Lahori Gate and Dilli Gate to raise their elevation so that they had a vantage point to keep an eye on Chandni Chowk. Since then, this soil has remained there and many more layers have accumulated over the decades.
Two years ago, ASI also did a clean up of the Dilli Gate. Since then, a proposal has been drafted to clean up Lahori Gate, too. The Department of Archaeology has sought permission from the Home Ministry for this.