The Delhi Gate beautification work has been pending for two years leading to disappointment among citizens.
The morning and evening walkers at Himayat Baugh have accused the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) of neglecting the maintenance of heritage structure Delhi Gate. Tourists heading to the world heritage site Ajanta Caves also often express their disappointment with the guides on seeing pitiful state of the gate.
The state archaeology is the custodian of Delhi Gate - the most important among the existing gates - that belongs to Mughal era. The custodian undertook conservation of Delhi Gate as well as Bhadkal Gate and Makkai Gate, by spending lakhs of rupees sanctioned by the erstwhile Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) under Ajanta-Ellora Development Project (Phase I), a decade ago.
Later on, the road from District Collectorate to Jalgaon T-point was named after the architect of modern Aurangabad Dr Rafiq Zakaria (who died on July 9, 2005). The AMC also discontinued the traffic on the road passing through the gate and built a new bypass (from the Himayat Baugh side). The AMC is responsible for civil works around the gate. It was announced that the Delhi Gate campus will be developed into an island attracting citizens. "The development work has, however, come to a halt for the last two years. The compound wall has been built around the gate. A couple of fixed signboards assure the reader that it is a heritage structure and throw light on its history. Green wild bushes have come up on the campus in the monsoon which speak volumes about its pathetic condition. Heaps of boulders lying on campus are on the verge of being covered in these bushes. Gunny bags full of sand and waste material are lying scattered. We are very upset with this pathetic condition of the gate," an area resident said.
According to a scholar, "Honouring the contribution of great politician, scholar and educationist Dr Rafiq Zakaria, the Government of Maharashtra (GoM) had sanctioned money for erection of his statue. As the statues are not permitted in Islam, the Maulana Azad Education Society (MAES) decided to develop an island inside Delhi Gate in the name of Dr Zakaria by putting additional money, other than offered by the government."
When contacted, AMC deputy engineer Shaikh Qamar clarified, "The MAES had requested the civic body to grant permission for self-development of Delhi Gate campus, few years ago. We had granted the permission. Hence, the delay in development and beautification of the circle is on their part, but we take follow-up on the issue."
This scribe was told that the MAES has plans to develop a beautiful landscape as there is huge tourist traffic on this route. There will be two entrances to the place. The site is proposed to be developed as a leisure destination for the visitors.
However, it could not be learnt why the MAES is not speeding up the work. Efforts to obtain its version proved futile as neither the coordinator nor any office-bearer was available to comment.