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Covid-19: Turnout low at ASI monuments in Delhi on day 1

PTI New Delhi | Updated on July 07, 2020 Published on July 07, 2020

The kos minar at Delhi’s Purana Qila   -  VV KRISHNAN

ASI-protected monuments were reopened for the public on Monday, but the footfall on day one was very low, even as the number of coronavirus cases in the national capital crossed the one lakh-mark.

Qutub Minar, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, attracted just 100 visitors, sources said.

On regular days the 12th century minaret gets a footfall of 8,000-10,000, according to officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The footfall at other sites was -- Humayun’s Tomb (70-80), Purana Quila (20-22), Safdarjung Tomb (8) and Jantar Mantar (12), roughly, as per official figures, the sources said.

Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and a host of other centrally-protected monuments in Delhi on Monday were reopened for visitors after being shut for over three months due to the Covid-19 crisis.

However, wearing of masks is mandatory and no one is allowed to enter the monuments if they are not wearing a mask, a senior official said.

Red Fort, which on regular days is closed every Monday, reopened on Tuesday.

“While the monuments have been reopened, visitors can book tickets in either of the two slots -- forenoon slot, which starts in the morning and ends at 12 noon -- and afternoon slot from 12 noon to 6 pm. In each slot, a maximum of 1,500 visitors will be allowed,” the official said.

So, around 12 noon in the afternoon slot on Tuesday, out of the 1,500 tickets for the Red Fort, 1,478 were still unpurchased, according to live ticketing figures accessed from the ASI website.

Around 4:15 pm, the unbought tickets for Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar stood at 934 and 1,438, respectively, and 987 for the Safdarjung Tomb, according to official figures.

Delhi’s ASI-protected monuments have been reopened for the public in line with the directions of the Culture Ministry.

All protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) as outlined by the ministry are being followed, including social distancing and sanitisation measures, officials said.

Incidentally, the monuments reopened on a day when Delhi’s Covid-19 tally breached the one lakh-mark, with the city recording 1,379 fresh coronavirus cases, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 3,115.

Delhi has 173 monuments protected under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar; Safdarjung Tomb, Purana Quila, Tughlakabad Fort, Hauz Khas, Jantar Mantar and Firoz Shah Kotla.

According to officials, on regular days, the Red Fort gets an average daily footfall in the range of 8,000-12,000, while Humayun’s Tomb gets 6,000-10,000, both these monuments are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

However, Humayun’s Tomb attracts more foreign visitors in general, they said.

A total of 3,691 centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by the ASI across the country have been shut from March 17 in view of the coronavirus crisis.

The officials said the reopening of sites has been done in compliance with the city and district authorities.

The Culture Ministry recently issued a set of protocols, saying only those monuments which are in non-containment zones will be reopened.

The number of containment zones in the city on Monday stood at 455.

As per the protocol, entry tickets are being issued in the e-mode and only e-payments are acceptable for parking and at the cafeteria at the sites.

No group photography and food or eatables is allowed inside the premises, it said.

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Published on July 07, 2020
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