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Delhi: Pragati Maidan makeover mired in legal trouble, could miss deadline

Mega project to develop Integrated Exhibition cum Convention Centre at Pragati Maidan has got caught in legal trouble over demotion of three pavilions.The project is also yet to secure mandatory clearances.

delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2017 18:09 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja
Sanjeev K Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Pragati Maidan,Convention Centre at Delhi
Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), a Mini Ratna company under the department of commerce, aimed to complete the Rs 2,254 crore project in the first half of 2019.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

The ambitious plan to develop Pragati Maidan into a world-class Integrated Exhibition cum Convention Centre (IECC) for the G20 summit, has hit several roadblocks. With only two years to go, the project is yet to get statutory clearances and has got caught in legal tangle over demolition of three old pavilions.

Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), a Mini Ratna company under the department of commerce, aimed to complete the Rs 2,254 crore project in the first half of 2019. However, the demolition work underway is expected to go on till June leaving only about 18 months for construction of the new centre. Moreover, the demolition of three key pavilions — Hall of Nations, Hall of Industries and Nehru Pavilion has been put on hold as the matter is sub judice.

“We got to know that ITPO announced to demolish Hall of Nations, Industries and Nehru Pavilion to construct IECC last year. As all our pleas to save these structures remained unheeded, we moved Delhi High Court to bar ITPO from demolishing these modern heritage monuments,” said AKG Menon, president, Delhi Chapter, INTACH which has filed a plea in the court to conserve the three pavilions.

On March 27, Raj Rewal, the architect of these iconic buildings, also moved HC for protection of the pavilions. “Hall of Nations has been displayed at Pompidou Museum, Paris between 2013 and 2015, National Gallery of Arts and Punjab Museum of Arts. Currently, it is at display at Kiran Nadar Museum in New Delhi. The Indian government has also issued postal stamp featuring Hall of Nations,” Rewal said.

The court has announced April17 as the next date for hearing in the case filed by INTACH and March 30 in the Raj Rawal plea. Meanwhile, the ITPO is yet to get nod from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), National Monuments Authority, DDA’s Unified Traffic & Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) and Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) for the project.

The looming court battle and pending approvals have lead to fears that the new project could fail to take off.

However, talking to HT, ITPO CMD L C Goyal was confident that the court will rule in the favour of the project. “Earlier three such court cases, including a PIL, were disposed of in our favour. MoUD’s Heritage Conservation committee too has refused to recognise Hall of Nations and two others as heritage buildings,” he said. Goyal also said that despite these road blocks the project will be completed in time. “We have received statutory clearances from Delhi Urban Art Commission, MCD, fire department and land and development office, in record time. We are going to submit documents with UTTIPEC soon and put clearances on fast track,” he said.

Another key challenge for ITPO is the auction of a hotel site measuring 3.7 acres. ITPO expects to raise Rs 500-600 crore from the auction to fund the project. “We have Rs 1,200 crores in our kitty and we expect to raise Rs 500-600 crores from the sale of hotel site. Rest we will raise from financial institutions,” Goyal said.

First Published: Mar 29, 2017 16:38 IST