Private vs public

Encroachment comes in the way of a plan to convert Town Hall into a heritage hotel in the heart of Delhi, reports Neelam Pandey.

delhi Updated: Feb 09, 2009 00:00 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times

The grand plans of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to convert its present headquarters — the 142-year-old Town Hall — into a heritage hotel before the Commonwealth Games in October 2010 has a major stumbling block.

Encroachment in the surrounding areas of Town Hall is far from anything that gives the feel of “private space” for such a hotel.

“Many people have encroached upon in the surrounding areas of Town Hall be it for parking, the katras (makeshift shops) or beggars. All these need to be removed before we can handover work to a private player, as they will naturally be apprehensive about it,” said a senior MCD official.

The MCD is also planning to construct a tunnel in the area to be used by pedestrians and vehicular traffic. “It will help decongest the area,” said the official.

The civic body will move its offices to the newly constructed Civic Centre on Minto Road.

The MCD has made a proposal to appoint a consultant to prepare a detail project report, which includes conducting a survey of the kind of traffic here, its pattern and impact on the site.

MCD Commissioner K.S. Mehra has said all encroachment in the area would be taken care of. “We will take action against all such encroachers and there are some cases pending in the court too. So, we are waiting for that,” said Mehra.

Town Hall was built between 1860 and 1865 when Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, was living in the Red Fort as prisoner of the British.

The civic body wants to call the heritage hotel a sarai or an inn.

“The project is about restoration of the old glory of Chandni Chowk. We don’t want to call it a hotel project because it sounds commercial. Town Hall will, therefore, be called sarai after the makeover,” said an official requesting anonymity.

The MCD wants to finish the project before the 2010 Games. The project includes a hotel, an experiential museum, a convocation and theatre hall, an amphitheatre for performances, a library and an art gallery, a haat along the lines of Dilli Haat with underground multi-level parking and food court/plaza in the complex.

The civic body hopes to earn Rs 500 crore from the project. “We will have 20 per cent stake in this project. The rest will be with the private developer,” said an official.

The other MCD offices, press and godowns in the area would also be removed.

First Published: Feb 08, 2009 23:57 IST