The Delhi government’s Public Works Department (PWD) has written to Delhi Police to take action on the Hanuman Mandir that came up overnight on the central verge at Chandni Chowk, replacing the one demolished in January following Delhi High Court orders.
The letter, written by a PWD Executive Engineer to the SHO of Kotwali police station on February 19, stated: “This is to inform you that last night, some unknown persons brought a pre-fabricated structure and placed it at planter top in the median near Kucha Mahajani at Chandni Chowk road. This structure is basically an obstacle in the theme of (the) project and placedwithout intimation and permission from project executing authorities. In this regard, it is requested to take necessary action at the earliest so that the project can be executed within the timeline… Early action is anticipated.”
A senior police officer said, “We are working with PWD and are looking into the matter.”
The PWD has undertaken the pedestrianisation project of a 1.3-km stretch between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid — part of a larger redevelopment project to turn the Walled City into a modern, car-free, shopper-friendly market. Sources had said the inauguration is likely to take place in April-May.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation, meanwhile, is planning to give legal status to the new temple. North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash said he will move a resolution in a House meeting next week after a meeting with officials: “A meeting with officials is planned on Monday; we will discuss how the temple can be given legal status.”
While the new temple is on the central verge of the 1.3-km stretch, the earlier one was on the side of the road and would constrict traffic in Chandni Chowk. The landowning agency of the area where the structure came up is North MCD, and the 1.3-km stretch comes under PWD for maintenance and beautification purposes.
While no one claimed responsibility for the structure — pre-made and comprising a steel and glass fabricated body — both BJP and AAP claimed “people of Chandni Chowk” had put it up in the early hours of Friday. Against the backdrop of next year’s MCD polls, both parties said they have no issues with it.
On Saturday, leaders from the Delhi BJP and AAP had visited the temple to offer prayers. The parties also traded charges over the demolition of the old temple.
Prakash had on Friday said permission is not needed for “an act of God”. The Delhi government had said it was “examining the issue”.
A senior official in the corporation said that for building a temple, a map has to be passed in the civic body. “The ownership document has to be shown, whether it is the name of the trust or an individual. For getting the map passed, the building plan is examined for ventilation, ground coverage, dome height, structural safety and other parameters,” he said.
If the plot is for commercial or residential purposes, then land use has to be changed to “religious purposes” through the Delhi Development Authority — the city’s land-owning agency — he said, and added, “Only then can MCD pass the map.”
Presently, the central verge is meant for greenery or beautification of public space.
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