Qutab Minar in Delhi tilting due to seepage: Experts
Source of Article: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/Qutab_Minar_in_Delhi_tilting_due_to_seepage_Experts/articleshow/4024909.cms
NEW DELHI: Is Qutab Minar going the way
of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Experts are understood to have expressed
concern that the monument, which
already has a tilt of 25 inches to the southwest, is in danger of leaning further in that direction due to a weak foundation being further weakened by rainwater seepage.
Acting quickly, a concerned Archaeological Survey of India has cemented the area around the structure with lime to make it water-tight. It has also set-up six underground 'water traps' at a depth of 12 feet to prevent any water from reaching the 10-feet deep foundation of India's most famous tower.
Experts added that the tilt is currently within safe limits but needs regular monitoring. Adding to the problem is the fact that the tower is in a seismic zone.
"There were concerns that Qutab Minar's foundation was being weakened by rainwater seepage. The minar stands on a slight depression which causes rainwater to flow directly to it's foundation. This apart, the ground around the minar has loose soil which absorbs rainwater. We have now cemented it with lime-terracing and no water can come near the monument's foundation," said a senior ASI official.
The 72.5 metre high Tughlaq-era structure is one of the three world heritage sites in Delhi, the other two being Humayun's Tomb and Red Fort. According to some historians, Qutab Minar has a 'natural' tilt which occurred not when it was built by Qutubuddin Aibak in 1173, but was caused either when the two upper storeys of the monument were later being built or due to an earthquake.
Inevitable comparisons with Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa are being made as well. Although intended to stand vertically, the minar began leaning to the southeast shortly after its construction. Experts say its foundation is poorly laid and loose soil around it allowed the structure to tilt.
Apart from the tilt, the damage to the 13th century monument from rainwater is clearly visible on the surface of the minar. On the southwest side, part of the semi-circular and angular fittings on the outer facade have blackened and huge cracks have developed due to underground water moving up the walls due to capillary action. "The discolouration is clearly visible. We have to ensure that there is no water seepage in the monument's foundation. Till now, the tilt is within safe limits but it could increase. We will also treat the damaged portions of the Minar," said a senior official.
According to sources, the tilt was mentioned in ASI reports as early as 1950. In the 1960s, a UNESCO-funded research conducted by a Japanese team submitted a three-volume report on the tilt. A report by archaeologist Zafar Hasan also pointed to the tilt in Qutab Minar, saying it needed to be controlled at the earliest.
Officials from ASI, however, insist there is no cause for alarm. "We have taken prompt action to tighten the water channels around the minar foundation. We can't undo the damage already caused by the capillary action but a weak foundation is common in other monuments like Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Red Fort. It is more of a concern for Qutab Minar because of its great height," said a senior ASI official.