Architects and conservationists have raised concern over the proposed ‘convention and exhibition centre’ in the pipeline as part of the redevelopment of Pragati Maidan.
On Wednesday, the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) discussed the proposed redevelopment project for the exhibition ground with India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) officials. The ITPO had recently announced the proposal for a new convention and exhibition centre spread over 1 lakh sqm.
“We had called a meeting with ITPO authorities as we wanted to discuss what they are doing,” said Raj Rewal, chairperson of DUAC.
The commission’s general opinion revolved around three issues — Mathura Road, Ring Road, arterial roads that connects north and south Delhi should not be choked further; Pragati Maidan has some of the best examples of iconic contemporary architecture such as the Hall of Nations, the Nehru Pavilion, etc, which should ideally be not demolished; and an urban design study should be conducted in view of the green and open spaces in the existing layout rather than going for heightened growth.
More than a decade ago, the Hall of Nations by Raj Rewal (Delhi) and Kanchanjunga Apartment by Charles Correa (Mumbai) are the only two buildings from India that have featured in the 20th century’s list of finest structures from across the world.
KT Ravindran, former DUAC chairperson, said the area between ITO and the Purana Qila was full of modern contemporary architecture such as the Science Centre, the Hall of Nations, Craft Museum and buildings designed by Joseph Stein. “All need to be preserved as part of Delhi’s architectural history,” he said.
In 2000, the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (Intach) had done a listing of heritage structures in Delhi (up to 1947), including examples of modern history such as the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“It is the time to include modern buildings in the list too as civic memory and history is attached to them. Do Co Mo Mo is a term for documenting modern movement.
It is time we had a Do Co Mo Mo in India too,” said Intach Delhi chapter’s AGK Menon.
“We have commissioned a master planning study for the redevelopment project. Only when it is complete, can we say what will be kept or demolished,” said Prabhat Chandra Sharma, general manager, ITPO.