NEW DELHI, June 7 (PTI): The meeting of a fresh expert committee constituted by the ASI for the conservation, preservation, restoration and proper functionality of the Jantar Mantar observatory, which was scheduled to take place on June 7, has been postponed due to some “administrative reasons”, officials said on Wednesday.
The meeting is now expected to take place in the next few days, they said.
“Some of the members of the new expert committee, including a top ASI official, were not available for the meeting on June 7. Efforts are being made to schedule the meeting on the next feasible date,” a senior official of the ASI told PTI.
So, the meeting has been postponed due to administrative reasons, he said.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had set up the panel more than a month ago.
Late April, the ASI had informed the Delhi High Court that an expert committee has been formed for the conservation, preservation, restoration and proper functionality of the Jantar Mantar observatory here.
Jantar Mantar was built by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1724. Jai Singh had found the existing astronomical instruments too small to take correct measurements and so he built these larger and more accurate instruments.
A listed monument under the ASI and a public landmark, it is a popular tourist destination in Delhi and lends name to a prominent street near it.
“By August 31, we expect to have a couple of meetings of the new panel, and get the work going,” the official said.
The fresh expert committee includes a few of the current and former ASI officials, and two experts — Dr Alok Pandya, professor and Head of the Department of Physics at the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, and Sandeep Bhattacharya, director (retired) of the BM Birla Planetarium, Jaipur, he said.
Noted astronomy communicator and former director of the Nehru Planetarium, Nandivada Rathnasree, was member of a panel earlier, but she died in 2021, the official added.
In April, the court had said it “reasonably” expects the committee to hold its meeting at the earliest for taking steps towards the preservation, restoration and proper functionality of the monument and sought a status report indicating the measures taken by it in this regard.
The court’s order came on a contempt petition seeking action against authorities for the non-compliance of a September 2010 high court order, in which the ASI had given an undertaking that Jantar Mantar shall be made functional and be restored to its original glory to the best of its ability.
Earlier this year, the court had directed the ASI to file a report on the existing status of the functionality of the instruments at Jantar Mantar.
The court also asked the superintending archaeologist to remain present before it on the next date of hearing on August 31.
The petitioner had earlier submitted that the central issue in the present proceedings is that the instruments at the Jantar Mantar monument are not in a functional state and added that despite the passage of 12 years, “things remain unchanged”.
The 2010 order was passed on a petition raising the grievance that Jantar Mantar in Delhi was not in a functional position due to various reasons.
The court had said being a national monument, Jantar Mantar must be preserved by all concerned.