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After ASI’s red flag, panel formed for relocation of forces from Pari Mahal.

Following concerns raised by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) over “deteriorating condition” of Pari Mahal, a nationally protected monument site in the summer capital, the state government has constituted a committee to identity alternate site for government forces camping inside the monument.

A senior ASI official said absence of maintenance poses severe threat to the monument as the walls right from main gateway comprising hamam, hall and library are on the verge of collapse.

“Yet the repairs cannot be taken up due to occupation of the site by government forces,” the official said.

Pari Mahal was built by Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh in the mid-1600s. It served as a library and an abode for him. Dara Shikoh was said to have lived in this area in the years 1640, 1645, and 1654. It was further used as an observatory, useful for teaching astrology and astronomy.

The monument has a domed ceiling with gardens laid out on seven terraces followed by pavilion or baradari. It is both world heritage site as well as an ASI’s centrally protected site listed by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The structure may get more damaged or even collapse, if not repaired in toto. Recently Parliamentary standing committee of tourism and culture during its visit to the monument has maintained that the authorities should get structural part of the monument vacated immediately from the forces in order to take conservation work on priority basis.”

A senior official said after concerns raised by ASI, the divisional commissioner constituted a committee headed by deputy commissioner Srinagar which would identify alternate site for relocation of the forces.

According to minutes of the meeting, a team under the chairmanship of the deputy commissioner shall visit the site and identify nearby alternate space for BSF platoon camping there.

The team shall comprise a representative each from offices of IGP Kashmir, DC Srinagar, IGP BSF frontier headquarters, director floriculture, conservator forests and superintending archeologist, Srinagar circle.

“Staff officer to inspector general of police, Kashmir zone informed that occupation of Pari Mahal by BSF dates back to early nineties wherein the BSF platoon has been assigned the responsibility of protecting all dignitaries residing at Cheshmashahi, where among other dignitaries, Governor of J&K is residing and the security cover should continue for area domination,” reads the minutes of the meeting. “He however said that an alternative nearby location may be provided to the BSF platoon, in case of any threat to the centrally protected site (and) deputy inspector general, BSF, Kashmir frontier headquarters, Srinagar conveyed his consent to the view of the staff officer and also added that the BSF platoon at Pari Mahal does not comprise of more than ten to twelve men.”

The deputy commissioner, Srinagar, who also holds charge of vice-chairman LAWDA pointed out that the security cover should continue for area domination. Yet the centrally protected monument having national importance like Pari Mahal “cannot be mistreated devoid of upkeep”, the minutes read.

It adds that conservation work should take place and in process, the administration should find alternate space for the BSF platoons in form of pre-fabricated huts or FRP tents or else in application of modus operandi.

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