Another building in the Lutyens Bungalow heritage zone is in danger of disappearing from New Delhi's urbanscape. Member of Parliament and industrialist Naveen Jindal has sought the de-listing of Patni House at 5 Mansingh Road from the heritage list that is final but pending notification of the New Delhi Municipal Council.
The property had created waves in the real estate market when it was purchased for over Rs 150 crore about a year ago.
Conservationists and experts say that if the building gets de-listed, it would pave the way for other privately owned buildings of heritage value getting demolished. It was built in 1925 by the Pattani family of Gujarat and is a part of the heritage list prepared by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in collaboration with the Delhi Development Authority. The building also falls in the conservation zone of the new Master Plan.
Ravi Kaimal, the architect engaged by the parliamentarian for the project, said that the application for de-listing the building was under consideration and that he would not like to speak about the merits of the case. Jindal was not available for comment as he is abroad.
Writer Patwant Singh, who is campaigning for world heritage status for the Lutyens Bungalow Zone, said that Mansingh Road was one of the few roads with gracious vistas which retained their old character. Members of Parliament should be more conscious of heritage conservation efforts, he said. "All civilised countries around the world are conserving their heritage environment, while here developers are playing havoc with it. As a result Parliament Street, Barakhamba Road and Kasurba Gandhi Marg have a host of ugly buildings without trees and gardens that characterised the garden city," Singh said.
Chairman of INTACH SK Mishra, said his organisation firmly stood by the the heritage list and would strongly oppose any move to de-list the building. "We'll take up this issue with the NDMC," Mishra said.
According to a senior historian who did not wish to be quoted, Mansingh Road falls within the conservation zone and is one the few avenues that has managed to retain its garden character. This unity, he said, would be disturbed if the building was allowed to be demolished.
Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Urban Development SM Acharya, who chairs the heritage committee, said that the decision on the application was yet to be taken. A sub-committee of experts who carried out site inspection of the building has given its opinion. The final decision will be taken after all members have discussed the opinion, according to Acharya.