ASI removes over 2 million kg of dirt from Red Fort ramparts, prevents collapse

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
May 31, 2018 02:29 PM IST

The dust and other air pollutants had accumulated on the Mughal-era monument over an estimated period of over 100 years and had formed a layer that was almost two meters thick.

The ramparts of Red Fort, from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation on Independence Day, were on the verge of collapse, says the Archaeological Survey of India which removed a mindboggling 22,000 quintal of dirt from the terrace over the past five months.

A view of the Red Fort in New Delhi .(HT File Photo)
A view of the Red Fort in New Delhi .(HT File Photo)

The dust and other air pollutants that had accumulated over an estimated period of over 100 years had formed a layer that was almost two meters thick. The project to clean up India’s most iconic fort began at the start of the year.

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“This exercise has been undertaken for the first time in about 100 years or so. The idea was to restore the terrace of the Lahori Gate by removing this huge dead load of 2.5 million kilos of earth which we have almost concluded successfully,” said Janhwij Sharma Joint Director General (Conservation, World Heritage) of ASI.

Sharma says that the huge load of earth material was a big threat to the main front part of the fort.

“It was wakening the structure over a period of time. The load could have brought a substantial part of the main front down anytime,” he says.

The year-long restoration project includes giving an original look to the market inside the Red Fort’s entrance. The project will also work on landscaping, toilets and drinking water facilities within the fort.

“The ceilings of the market had more than seven layers of plaster work due to which Mughal era paintings were not visible. The ASI team is slowly removing these layers so that the original paintings will come out,” Sharma said.

He also said that the purpose of the restoration is to give visitors an experience of the fort as it existed in the 19th century, in an authentic and unique way.

Navratna Kumar Pathak, Superintendent Archaeologist at the Red Fort, under whom the conservation work has been going on for past five months, says that a paste made from Multani Mitti (clay material that has the capability to decolorize oil or other liquids without chemical treatment) has been applied on the marble structure of the Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audiences, to bring back the original colour.

“The total cost of the project is between 55 to 60 crore,” says Pathak.

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    Jeevan Prakash Sharma is assistant editor, Special Assignment. He has spent nearly 20 years in journalism with focus on education, real estate, crime and legal . He specialises in RTI-based information and open source data.

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