Community hall coming up on protected monument site in Srinagar

Community hall coming up on protected monument site in Srinagar
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Violation of rules, says Dir Archeology dept

Srinagar: A huge two-storey community hall is being raised in the vicinity of protected monument Madeen Sahib in Srinagar. The construction started during the PDP-BJP government after the foundation stone was laid by PDP legislator and Shia leader Abid Ansari in May last year at Hawal.
According to rules of the Archives, Archaeology and Museums department, any sort of construction is banned within 100 feet of a protected site. The historic Madeen Sahib shrine is closed since long and no one is allowed to enter the premises except for those who carry official permission.
As of now, concrete pillars of the community hall have been raised at the site and work on the ground floor of the hall has been completed. Construction workers are now building the second floor.
M Saleem Beg, Convener of the J&K Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said that a few parts of the Madeen Sahib shrine have been removed and preserved in a museum in London. He said the monument is believed to have been built during the reign of Zainul Abidin, popularly known as ‘Budshah’ by Kashmiris, in the year 1444 as a tribute to his teacher Muhammad Madani.
“For centuries, this heritage monument remained a centre of attraction for not only the people in Kashmir, but also for a good number of visitors and tourists from India and other foreign nations,” he said.
Visitors kept arriving at the shrine till one fateful day in 2002, when sectarian clashes erupted over the ownership of the shrine. The shrine has been closed for visitors since then.
State Director of the Archaeology Department, Muneer-ul-Islam, told Kashmir Reader that the construction is being carried out in violation of rules.
“We did not give them permission to build the community hall, nor did they approach us (for permission),” he said.
Muneer, who took over the department last month, admitted that it was a lapse on the part of the department that such construction was being carried out within a restricted area.
“We will take necessary steps against it,” he said.
The state Archaeology Department has declared the Madeen Sahib Shrine as a Historical Monument of the Sultanate Period.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation, which is responsible for granting construction permission within city limits, has also not taken any action so far and is waiting for the archaeology department to make its move.
SMC commissioner Riyaz Ahmad Wani said on the issue, “If the Archaeology department has objections, they should come forward. We will not act unless we receive direction from the archaeology department.”