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Open Defecation, Waste Dumping, Building Activity & Slums Deface Stepwell
Just off Sohna Road, in the town of Badshapur, there li es a baoli, an old stepwell. Built in 1905, the baoli straddles a girls' primary school, and like many a structure from the past, it is devilishly hard to locate amid the directionless sprawl that is New Gurgaon and its surrounds.
Now, it is under threat of being knocked down, to make way for a road coming from Kadarpur, past new high-rise apartment blocks, and connecting to the Sohna highway. The road is currently under construction, and the concern is that the baoli may disappear under asphalt and bitumen if action isn't taken soon.
TOI visited the spot this week and found the stepwell in a state of utter disrepair. What was the catchment area has been infringed upon by building activity going back a decade or so. A slum area borders one side of the baoli, while the other is choked with weeds and undergrowth. What water there is in the main reservoir is fetid, a result of it being used as a dumping ground and open toilet for many years.
It is a sorry sight, and just another example of how architectural splendours count for little in the mad rush towards a lopsided development.And it seems the baoli was surplus to requirements, for the `Gurgaon-Manesar Deve lopment Plan 2031' makes no mention of it. Locals in the area were in the dark about its future, though some did say they'd heard that the structure was not safe from being demolished. Not so, said the Haryana PWD minister Rao Narbir Singh. “We don't know how much work needs to be done in the baoli to restore it but we will be inspecting the site soon,“ the minister told TOI. “We'll find out what exactly needs to be done, and how much money needs to be allocated, before taking a decision on the restoration.“
The executive engineer (PWD), too, knows nothing of the baoli having to be torn down. According to him, 950 metres of work remain before the road is complete, which he anticipates will take between three and four months. “I am not aware that the baoli or anything else is getting in the way of completion of the road,“ shared Chander Mohan.
“There are just a few encroachments, and some electricity poles that are in the process of being shifted,“ he added.The land, incidentally , belongs to the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, which is providing the funding for the road's extension, though it is the PWD that is in charge of the deposit works.
In the Ministry of Culture's virtual museum of images and sounds, the Badshahpur baoli figures as an Indo-Islamic structure of historical significance in Haryana. The Badshahpur baoli needs a custodian before it quickly gets consigned to history .