Chandigarh’s architect department has little say over city’s architecture
After the UT administration decided to construct an underpass connecting Rose Garden with Sector 17 to facilitate pedestrian movement at a cost of Rs 9 crore, it is learnt the UT architect department raised an objection.punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2017 15:45 IST
The UT architect department has been watching silently as most of its proposals are being shot down by other departments. In a city that is known for its architecture and planning excellence around the globe, the architect department has failed to save it from going astray from the path set by Le Corbusier.
Looking at some of the projects in the past three years, it becomes evident how despite objections of the UT architect department, these were given the go-ahead.
Grilles in CHB houses
In October 2014, UT chief architect Kapil Setia, who is also a member of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) governing body, strongly objected to allowing grilles in balconies and verandahs of houses of all categories under the CHB.
But the board went ahead and allowed the grilles. Setia in his written objection stated that it would have wide ramifications as it could adversely affect the urban design of group housing units. He also stated that a similar demand could be raised by private group housing societies in southern sectors where the floor area ratio (FAR) had been exhausted.
- “It is sad that the UT architect department has no say in major projects of the city, which pertain to its heritage,” said Sanjay Goyal, chairman of the Indian Institute of Architects, Chandigarh-Punjab chapter. “In the past three years, the architect department has been defunct, as most of the buildings are either repaired in an unprofessional manner or just demolished.”
- Senior architect Surinder Bahga, too, questioned the lethargic attitude adopted by the department.
- “Even though two years back it was proposed that building plans will be approved online, the architect department has not expedited the project,” he said. “As a result, the common man has to wait for months to get their plans approved.” Bahga said the department should be proactive in safeguarding the city’s interests.
- Even after repeated attempts, UT chief architect Kapil Setia could not be contacted for comment.
Height of railings on medians
In April this year, the architect department objected to the height of railings on the medians on various roads in the city, but the engineering department went ahead with its plan. Even the members of the Indian Institute of Architects, Chandigarh-Punjab chapter, had strongly opposed the move.
The UT architect department stated that there was no need for the railings, and even if these had to be installed, the height should not be more than 3 feet. However, the ones installed are 5-foot high, a blot on the city’s aesthetics.
After the UT administration decided to construct an underpass connecting Rose Garden with Sector 17 to facilitate pedestrian movement at a cost of Rs 9 crore, it is learnt the UT architect department raised an objection.
The department reasoned that the project will eat a lot of green space in Rose Garden and will lead to wasteful expenditure as only a few pedestrians will be using it. But the project was approved under the smart city plans and now its construction is underway.
In May this year, the department declared Sectors 17, 19 and 22 as no-vending zones, but the municipal corporation councillors passed a resolution against it in the House.
It was only after protests by traders that the UT administration declared Sector 17 as a no-vending zone, but allowed 150 vendors each in Sectors 19 and 22.
Selection of architect
Around two months back, the UT engineering department decided to hire a private architect to design the proposed new secretariat building in Sector 9.
It was the engineering department that finalised the architect. The UT chief architect was just a member of the committee.
Caption: Railings installed on a median on Madhya Marg in Chandigarh. Even as the UT architect department objected to the move and stated that the height should not be more than 3 feet, the engineering department installed 5-foot-high railings in April this year. HT file