Sunday, Nov 16, 2003
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By Mandira Nayar
Neglecting the heritage that they are supposed to protect, these wells have been filled up and no one knows whom to pin the blame on. While senior officials at the Delhi circle seem clueless about the wells being filled up, the gardeners at the site blame visitors.
"These have no water and are full of stones. There is only one, which still has water, but all the others are just empty. People keep throwing things into them - plastic chips packets, bottles and all the other rubbish they get into the monument. Actually eatables are not allowed in here, but they are sold outside and we try and stop people. But it is not possible to stop them all,'' stated another gardener.
Asked if the wells are ever routinely cleaned, he replied shaking his head: "No. They are full of stones and are rarely cleaned.'' While there has been an emphasis on water-harvesting and the ASI has desilted many old "baolis'' to regenerate them, they seem to have overlooked these wells.
One of the wells, situated near the public utility at the site has been completely filled up with empty packet of chips, packet bags and dead leaves. "This well has been filled for years, it doesn't have water in it,'' explained a gardener puzzled at the question. A little further away, near the wall of the Qutub compound is another well, which has recently been hidden away. Believed to be the main well which fed the Qutub Complex as well as the adjoining Quli Khan's Complex, which was Lord Metcalfe "holiday retreat" during the Raj, this too has been buried under hay to be forgotten.
Though senior officials at the ASI horticultural division insist that they are responsible only for maintaining the gardens and not ancient structures, it is this attitude which is the crux of the problem, feel experts. "We look after the upkeep of the gardens and the ancient structures are not in our control. The Qutub is also in a garden and we don't look after it,'' said an official.
For their part, officials in the conservation department were slightly more "diplomatic". "We work together, the horticulture department also works with us. No one can shirk responsibility like that. Now that it has been brought to our notice, action will be taken,'' an official remarked.
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