Repair works at Delhi’s iconic monument, Red Fort is underway and will open doors for visitors again soon. Officials at the Archaeological Survey of India informed Indian Express that restoration works at the Red Fort entrance that was vandalized on January 26 is nearing its completion and the decision to reopen it will be taken eventually.
The UNESCO Heritage Site was shut on January 18 after the death of 60 birds at the monument raised an alarm. Soon the district administration and disaster management authority detected an outbreak of Avian Flu in the monument’s premises. The notice to keep Red Fort shut for visitors, citing the spread of Avian Influenza was extended on February 1, until “further order.”
On January 26, during the tractor rally, hundreds of people stormed Red Fort, climbed a flag pole and caused heavy damage to the public property. Port cabins used by officials and security counters were wrecked, CCTV cameras, glass windows, machines, metal detectors, visitors baggage deposit counter were all ransacked. ASI, that also looks after other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, soon took a decision to keep the gates shut to take stock of the damages.
Culture and tourism minister Prahlad Patel visited the site and instructed ASI DG to prepare a report on the incident. He later informed that an under-construction interpretation centre on the monument’s first floor has undergone massive damage across its 6 to 7 blocks.
Red fort is being developed by the Dalmia Bharat Group that won the contract for the Fort’s operations, maintenance and development through Centre’s “Adopt a Heritage” scheme.
On January 19, one bird carcass sample tested positive for H5N1 virus that causes avian influenza, following which the monument was shut for sanitisation purpose and to control the spread of the flu. Dr Rakesh Singh, the animal husbandry officer at the north district, informed that although no new incident of birds dying has been found in the last few days, but the site can be declared infection-free only after two consecutive negative results. The round two testings will commence soon, he further said.
All entry points to the Red Fort currently has been barricaded by the personnel of the Delhi Police and the CISF. No visitors are permitted inside the grounds.