In 2,000-Crore Revamp of Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, Iconic Buildings to be razed: 10 Points

In 2,000-Crore Revamp of Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, Iconic Buildings to be razed: 10 Points

The Cabinet has okayed the setting up of what the government is calling a “world-class Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre” at Delhi’s famous Pragati Maidan. For several years, architects and art organisations ran a campaign to try and ensure that the Hall of Nations and other iconic buildings at the exhibition ground are not pulled down to facilitate the new project, and today’s decision seals those hopes. The government has said the first of two phases of the redevelopment will finish by mid-2019.

Here are the latest developments in the story:
The new project, proposed by the India Trade Promotion Organisation, will cost 2254 crores. After redevelopment, the government said, Pragati Maidan will have 1.19 lakh sq. metres of space for exhibitions compared to 65,000 sq. meters right now. Plans include a “state-of-the-art Convention Center” that will seat 7,000 people, and support facilities like parking space for almost 5,000 cars. The government said the new centre has been planned as “with India’s growing international profile and increasing presence at summit, ministerial and other levels, a need has been felt to have a modern world-class Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre at New Delhi to provide an appropriate venue for international events.”
The present facilities have been found to fall short of international standards, a government press release said.

The Indian National Trust for art and Cultural Heritage or INTACH has in a plea in court said that buildings like the Hall of Nations and the Nehru Pavilion at Pragati Maidan are part of “modern heritage” and need to be protected. The Indian Institute of Architects, which says it has 20,000 members, has made multiple appeals in the last few years to the government to reject the new plan and save the buildings, which it has described as “testimony to the nation’s prowess in structural engineering and architecture.”

However, the India Trade Promotion Organisation or ITPO, which owns the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion, has opposed the plea to save these buildings, saying it interferes with the plan to set up a world-class facility. The Hall of Nations, the main exhibition pavilion at Pragati Maidan, was designed by architect Raj Rewal and built in 1972, to mark 25 years of the country’s Independence. Pragati Maidan was for years Delhi’s one stop for exhibitions. Lately many of these have moved to the suburbs, but the annual India International Trade Fair and several important Book Fairs continue to be held there.


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