Central vista revamp plan will not affect Delhi’s bid for World Heritage City tag: Tourism dept
At the time when the Delhi government is preparing to nominate the capital for the UNESCO World Heritage City tag, stakeholders say the central government’s plan to revamp the central vista or Rajpath, which runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan through Vijay Chowk and India Gate in central Delhi, will not affect the proposal as long as all regulations are followed.
The central government on Thursday announced its decision to revamp large parts of Lutyens’ Delhi, which includes revamping or building a new Parliament House by 2022 and razing a number of buildings to construct an integrated complex to house all government departments and ministries.
“The dossier for the World Heritage City tag was prepared in 2014. We have to update it with changes that have taken place in Lutyens’ Delhi since then and also accommodate the plans to revamp the central vista. However, we are confident that none of these changes has done any harm to the basic character of Lutyens’ Delhi,” an official from the Delhi tourism department said.
The 17th century imperial Walled City of Shahjahanabad ,which was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and the British imperial city of New Delhi, designed by Edwin Lutyens in the early 20th century, are the two precincts which were being considered for the World Heritage City tag. The proposal was last made in 2014 and the central government had withdrawn it a year later.
Since 2015, Lutyens’ Delhi has undergone several changes and with the recent decision to revamp the central vista, more are expected to come about in the next couple of years.
“The War Memorial and the National Police Memorial have also come up in the same area, but these changes have only resulted in beautifying the place further,” the official said.
“In the dossier, we have identified that the urban morphology of both these cities to be unique. In addition, there are the monuments and historical buildings which have been identified as heritage sites and have legislation protecting them. The urban morphology of the city has not undergone any change. Developments have taken place, as are expected in a living city, and we will accommodate these changes when we update the dossier,” Annabel Lopez, project consultant at the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said. The INTACH is the knowledge partner of the Delhi government and has been tasked with preparing the dossier for the World Heritage City tag.
“The crux of the proposal is that they are imperial capital cities in one location. The history of Delhi is unique because every dynasty that came to India decided to make this city their capital,” Lopez said.
Speaking about the changes expected in Lutyens’ Delhi, conservationist AGK Menon said “new buildings have come up and changes have been made in heritage cities across the world. “By conservation, we do not mean that we freeze the city. However, we have to ensure that the basic character does not change,” he said.
“Take, for instance, the Garden of Versailles in Paris, which has been revamped twice or thrice in the past, but still carries the same historical significance,” Menon said.