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Delhi’s new skyscraper: If more sprout, will it be good or bad for the cityscape?

With the news of Delhi getting a new skyscraper, the architects and historians debate if the cityscape will appear similar to Noida/Gurgaon, and lose its heritage charm.

delhi Updated: May 10, 2018 11:13 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Delhi’s skyline that comprises Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, and the new constructions coming up in central and other parts of Delhi. (PHOTO: Shivam Saxena/HT)

Which is the tallest building in your city? Till now, for Delhiites, the answer was the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s Civic Centre. But, according to reports, this will change soon, when a 46-storey twin tower in Karol Bagh will take shape — the newest skyscraper that Delhi can boast of. And this high-rise, which heralds the changing cityscape of Delhi, has garnered mixed feelings from the city dwellers.

READ | Lessons from London: Dotted with tall buildings, Delhi-NCR is not fire-safe

While some are sceptical about the change saying that the character of the city will be lost, some are more open about it. Welcoming such development, architect Stuti Garg says, “For Delhi to come on the world map, where all metro cities have skyscrapers, it’s important to get a landmark like this.”

Vijay Risbud, former DDA commissioner of planning, says, “For group housing projects, according to Master Plan (2021), there is no height restriction. The entire picture of Delhi is changing. Two-storey houses in Kidwai Nagar, Nauroji Nagar are being re-developed to multi-storeys. This gives a new lease of life to the old buildings.”

A cloudy sky in Delhi with high-rises, as spotted on one of the days when the city witnessed a heavy shower. ( PHOTO: Sarang Gupta/HT )

But, will the development not take away the heritage value of the Capital? “The proposal to make Delhi a [UNESCO World] Heritage City was killed because all this development would have stopped then,” says historian-author Sohail Hashmi. However, one can’t expect a Manhattan skyline all of a sudden in the city, points out Garg, who feels that in order combat the rising population one has to encourage skyscrapers.

Disagreeing with Garg, Hashmi says encouraging construction of high-rises will add to the pressure on land. “The city has been given to private builders, and old places are growing vertically. If an old building has outlived its life, repair it and build it up to four floors. There is no possibility of expansion of the Ring Road where Kidwai Nagar has come up. When people move in there, the already congested road will become more crowded. And there is a scarcity of water in Delhi. While providing solution to the population, we are not thinking about the rising demand of water. There is a lot of infertile land outside Delhi, why not develop that?” he questions.

READ | Town Hall to Civic Centre, MCD grows tall

Supporting his argument, Rajni Bhatia, a resident of Delhi for the past 56 years, says, “It’s good to talk about skyscrapers, but can the city handle it? Why not develop areas outside Delhi? I don’t want the skyline to change. I don’t want tall buildings to suffocate my city anymore.”

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First Published: May 10, 2018 11:13 IST