Medieval baoli turns into a garbage dump

A Lodhi-era stepwell in Dwarka lies neglected despite government's promise to conserve it.

More than one-and-a-half years after it was discovered and the archaeology department of the Delhi government promised to protect and conserve it with the help of INTACH, a Lodhi-era stepwell in Dwarka lies neglected with garbage being dumped in and around it. With not even a board announcing the heritage structure, most local residents are unaware of this little-known chunk of history in their backyard.

Located off the main road between Sectors 12 and 4, and between a private school and a residential apartment, the Loharehri baoli is hidden behind trees and undergrowth. One can, however, see the baoli's rubble masonry structure, its opening, arches and a few steps. But with waste thrown inside, it's difficult to climb down and gauge its depth.

The barren land where it is located is marked as DDA's. Hence, it is surprising that the state archaeology department has so far not been able to take requisite permission from another government agency to at least put up a board here. Director (archaeology) Vishwa Mohan says that merely putting up a board would serve no purpose. "Someone will take away the board. We are in the process of establishing a committee that will formulate plans and measures to protect and conserve 15 little-known heritage structures, including this baoli. For this purpose, an MoU with the INTACH was extended a couple of months ago."

INTACH's Director (projects) Ajay Kumar confirms that the agreement with the government has been extended from three to five years. "Work on these 15 monuments will start within a month and we will take at least six months to complete it," he says.

Sources in the archaeology department say there are also plans to excavate the site.

The stepwell does not figure in the list of 92 heritage structures prepared by the archaeology department, though it is mentioned in the one prepared by Maulvi Zafar Hasan in the 1920s. Once Delhi had a hundred-odd medieval baolis that took care of the city's water needs. The Loharehri baoli, named after the village that once stood here, is one of the 10-12 stepwells to survive urbanisation.

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