There is still hope for the Lutyens Bungalow Zone from further disfigurement if a move to conserve and restore the world class heritage city is put into action.
For the first time since Independence, a policy guideline is being worked out for the whole of the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) at the instance of the Union Urban Development Ministry.
Ironically enough, the move to adopt a policy for the bungalow zone and weed out haphazard developments, has been precipitated by the repeated drubbing from the Delhi High Court for allowing illegal constructions and alterations in the bungalows at the whims of ministers and bureaucrats. Though the Central Public Works Department spares very little funds for repairs and renovation, ministers with plush portfolios, strip the allotted bungalows bare and the whole structure is redone from plaster onwards. At times even the facades are changed without any sanction. Often parallels are drawn with 10, Downing Street, London, where no Prime Minister has the liberty to impose personal likes and dislikes on the residential accommodation or tinker with the building.
The Delhi Urban Art Commission that has been entrusted with the work for drawing up the development guidelines for the LBZ area has said that an intelligent mix of conservation, restoration and sensitive redevelopment would be the correct way to approach the LBZ rather than freeze all developments.
Special consultant with the urban art commission for LBZ, Rajiv Narain said that a code is being worked out that would factor in all modern needs of Ministers like security, reception rooms, guest rooms and so on. The height of the compound walls, their design, texture, material, colour will be uniform. Once the code of extra facilities are fixed, all violations will have to go, Narain said.
The LBZ guidelines recommend conservation of the bungalows along the major arterial roads like Kasturba Gandhi Marg, Janpath, Prithvi Raj Road, Akbar Road and Dupleix Road.
The residential bungalows on these roads should be brought back to their original shape and be given harmonious front elevations and uniform boundary walls. The standard designs for guard cabins, boundary walls etc. is being worked out in a category-wise manner.
For the inner sectors, sensitive redensification has been proposed but not on the scale seen on Hailey road or Ferozeshah Road where large multi-storeyed flats (many of them very poorly maintained) have come up. For this, the Sunehri Bagh area near Nirman Bhawan, has been picked up as model redensification project.
Member of DUAC who is heading the LBZ taskforce, Jasbir Sawhney, said that the layout plan for redensification of Sunehri Bagh area has been approved. The four-acre plot bungalows will be pulled down to make way for more number of bungalows on one acre plots but the buildings will stay within the tree height. Some of the services for these bungalows like generators, DG sets etc will be centralized.
The DUAC is also coming out with special building bye-laws for Bengali Market, Sundar Nagar and Jor Bagh areas that will be taken out of LBZ but will be a part of a larger Garden City Zone. The buildings bye-laws will be liberalized to some extent for these areas and basement and parking will be allowed but uncontrolled vertical growth will not be allowed to maintain the garden city character in these areas, Narain said.