ASI team inspects Jama Masjid to assess damage

ASI team inspects Jama Masjid to assess damage

The Centre is examining a request for restoration works on the Jama Masjid as cracks have appeared in its domes, pillars and arches over the years.

Officials from the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) are studying what needs to be done to maintain the structural integrity of the 361-year-old mosque, one of the largest in India and visited by hundreds of worshippers and tourists every day.

Senior officials held a meeting to discuss the matter on Friday, a day after a team from the Delhi circle office visited the site to assess the extent of the damage.

A team from the Delhi Disaster Management Authority also inspected the site.

"Our team has inspected the site. We will take necessary action on the basis of the report and recommendations," an ASI official told DH.

The inspections came after the condition of the iconic mosque was highlighted by a section of the media recently.

The Shahi Imam of the Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, told media persons that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the ASI last year, seeking help for "the urgent repair of the structure."

"I specifically told both the PM's office and the ASI that lack of maintenance was resulting in permanent damage. In particular, the main prayer chamber and three domes require instant restoration," a newspaper quoted him as saying.

While the Jama Masjid is not an ASI-protected monument, the responsibility of its regular maintenance, management and protection lies with the Delhi Waqf Board which cited a paucity of funds for not initiating restoration work.

The Ministry of Culture, however, has some provisions for earmarking funds for the Jama Masjid.

"Once the final assessment of the damage is done, steps will be taken for restoration work," sources in the ASI said.

Custodians of the Jama Masjid say water seepage has caused damage to the walls, domes and minarets of the mosque.

The central dome of the main prayer hall is the worst affected. Water has peeled off the plaster and layers of sandstone from the walls, making them weaker.

Several wall joints and minarets have developed cracks which allow rainwater to seep in and erode the structure, they added.

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