Ajmer Fort tampered to construct film archive

A portion of a 448-year-old Mughal-era fort in Ajmer built by emperor Akbar has been tampered with by the Ajmer Development Authority (ADA) which has used modern construction to make space for a film library allegedly without consulting the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The walls and ceilings of Akbar ka Qila or Akbar’s Fort, which was rechristened as Ajmer Fort in 2016 by the BJP government, have been replaced by wood, granite POP, tiles and steel railings.

The two-storey portion, outside the main campus of the fort, was meant for the royal guards and had an arch-shaped hall with balcony on both the floors. The ADA, who inherited the property in a dilapidated condition, converted the halls into a film library, including one small 20-seater movie theatre on the second floor.

CM Vasundhara Raje had allocated Rs 2 crore in 2016 for the conservation and shifting of the library which was built in the 1960s. The department of archaeology and museums had assigned the portion to ADA for making changes under the Rajasthan Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Antiquities Rules, 1968. Officials, however, refused to comment citing that until the property is handed back to them they cannot comment. As per the rule, changes in the heritage property should be made in accordance to the nearest available material used in the structure.

TOI did a reality check only to find out that instead of sandstone, granite has been used for flooring, the walls have been covered by 2-3 inches’ wooden panels making the space smaller. The heavy wooden almirahs placed across the hall puts additional burden on the old structure. The entire complex has been made air-conditioned, with some windows closed forever, and doesn’t have any smoke sensors.

Assistant Engineer, ADA, OP Solanki refused to admit that they have compromised with the quality of work, “Nothing has been changed which can be termed as tampering with the property.”

He said that the property is ready for handover. Official of the department of archaeology and museums said that the property was undoubtedly in bad condition but that doesn’t mean that ADA can go beyond the actual structure of the property.

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