Heritage first, development later: Mehra | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Heritage first, development later: Mehra

Hundred years ago, the British brought in a virtual divide between the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Delhi when Lutyens designed the present day New Delhi away from Shahjahanabad, reports Nivedita Khandekar.

delhi Updated: Aug 31, 2009 23:16 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Hundred years ago, the British brought in a virtual divide between the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Delhi when Lutyens designed the present day New Delhi away from Shahjahanabad.

The present day rulers — the Municipal Corporation of Delhi — might end up doing the same if the proposed traffic management and circulation plan for the upcoming Civic Centre (on the Minto Road) and the New Delhi Railway Station are carried out in its current form, said the Delhi Chapter convenor of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) AGK Menon.

INTACH has now been asked to carry out the urban design study and suggest alternatives so as to ensure that it will not in any way disturb the heritage fabric of the area.

MCD Commissioner K.S. Mehra agreed that INTACH has been asked to carry out the urban design study and suggest alternative plan in about a month.

“The idea is not to disturb the heritage but preserve it. The area (Shahjahanabad) is precious for the city in view of its heritage legacy.”

“INTACH has been asked to study if the urban form of the area vis-à-vis heritage should undergo change or not,” Mehra added.

Menon said, “There are several heritage monuments lining the roads surrounding the Civic Centre … Turkman Gate and Ajmeri Gate to name just two. The current plan does not consider the fact that area across Aruna Asaf Ali road is heritage city Shahjahanabad.”

Some of the major flaws in the design are that the roads — most of which would be 8-lane highways with one-way traffic — are not equally distributed for all users.

For instance, the current plan shows just two-metres of space on the sides of the road for pedestrians, cycle rickshaws, tehbazari people and all other road users apart from private vehicles.

Coming from Turkman Gate, around the Ram Lila Maidan, to go towards Delhi Gate, one can see two big hospitals on the right side.

Then there are people living in huts on the pavement, on the sides of the road and scores of rickshaw pullers parking their vehicles on the sides.

There is a need to factor in these things also when the new plan is made.

“These new roads would isolate Shahjahanabad from the Lutyen’s zone,” Menon said.

Heritage lovers are equally concerned about what transport is doing to the city but there should be a concern for heritage too, he added.

The Civic Centre has provided parking for 2,500 cars inside the complex. If the Income Tax office is given half the portion, one can imagine the number of visitors to the area.

“There are two hospitals down the line towards east on the same road and some distance away is the New Delhi Railway Station. The planners did not at all consider all such factors in the planning stage,” Menon pointed out.