NMA grants NOC to Agra Metro in prohibited areas of two more historical monuments, RTI response reveals

Elevated section of Agra Metro Corridor I on Fatehabad Road.

The National Monuments Authority (NMA) has granted NOC to Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) for the construction of Agra Metro Corridor-II in the prohibited area of two historical monuments. With the latest permission, the Agra Metro construction work will reach closer to any historical monument in Agra than ever before. In its meeting conducted on May 20, 2023, the NMA has allowed construction work for an elevated metro station of the Corridor-II of Agra Metro Rail only 15 m away from the historical monument, Roman Catholic Cemetery located near Bhagwan Talkies on the arterial Mahatma Gandhi Road. This information has been provided by the NMA in response to an RTI application filed by this reporter. The NOC has also permitted construction of metro stations 450 m away from Lal Masjid and 66 m away from Rambagh, for this corridor, the RTI response reveals.

Two of these proposed metro stations lie within the protected area of the monuments (i.e. within 100 m) as defined by the The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act. As earlier reported, the NMA in its 280th meeting, held on September 18, 2020 had told the UPMRC that proposed construction within prohibited area had to be considered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as it is outside the purview of the NMA. Yet asked for any record of permission or recommendation from the ASI for construction work within the prohibited area in the same RTI application, the NMA has not provided any. A first appeal has been filed in this regard and any updates will be reported on Opinion Tandoor in the future.

As reported earlier on Opinion Tandoor, the NMA had given permission for elevated section of Corridor I in the prohibited area of two other monuments close to Sikandra on the Delhi-Agra National Highway in July, 2022, namely Tomb of Salabat Khan and Tomb of Sadiq Khan, and Patthar Ka Ghoda. In response to an RTI application filed by this reporter last year, asking for any record of permission or recommendation from the ASI for construction within the prohibited area of these monuments, ASI had stated that it had not given any such approval or recommendation. It is yet to be known if the latest permission from NMA for Corridor II has been given without any recommendation or approval from the ASI or not.

The distance of 15 m between the Metro station and the Roman Catholic Cemetery is the closest that the Agra Metro will come to any monument in the city. Earlier the closest distance that the construction was allowed from any monument was 25 m from Patthar Ka Ghoda. Following is a list of monuments close to which NMA has given NOCs for elevated construction work in the past three years and the distance between the monuments and the respective Metro corridors.

Name of the MonumentDistance from Metro Corridor
Corridor I
Tomb of Sadiq Khan and Tomb of Salabat Khan60 m
Sikandra (Akbar’s Tomb)152 m
Guru Ka Taal Gurudwara111 m
Patthar Ka Ghoda25 m
Corridor II
Roman Catholic Cemetery15 m
Lal Masjid450 m
Rambagh66 m
Source: Information obtained from multiple RTI applications.

Despite initially declining permission to UPMRC for elevated construction of Agra Metro even in the regulated area (within 200 m) of any monument in its 280th meeting in September 2020, the NMA since has given NOC to elevated construction work within regulated area of two monuments and prohibited area of four monuments. Besides, the NMA had also given NOC for underground construction at a depth of 10 to 16 m below the surface, close to three other monuments in July 2021 despite acknowledging concerns for threats posed to monuments, as reported here.

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