Focus on vertical growth, Delhi needs to protect modern heritage buildings

Delhi: 2March, 2021 (Hindustan Times)

 

The buildings figured on the 2013 Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)-Delhi’s list of 62 modern heritage structures submitted to the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC), an urban development regulatory body

9e2d02dc-7b38-11eb-b253-07de00f15483_1614677006166

What do the Ashok Hotel, Vikas Minar, one of the tallest buildings in Delhi, Dak Tar Bhawan, and Akbar Bhawan have in common? These are some of the buildings that dominated the Capital’s skyline in the mid-50s and 60s and represented the evolution of post-colonial architecture. But with the focus on vertical growth for optimal land utilisation set to alter Delhi’s skyline, experts have called for protecting these post-Independence buildings that are an essential part of the city’s modern architectural heritage.

The buildings figured on the 2013 Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)-Delhi’s list of 62 modern heritage structures submitted to the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC), an urban development regulatory body.

The list also included the iconic Hall of Nations, which was razed in 2017 to make way for the Pragati Maidan redevelopment project, Baha’i Temple, Vigyan Bhawan, Asiad Games Village, Nehru Memorial Library, Supreme Court, Garden of Five Senses, India Habitat Centre, National Science Centre, among others. From design and use of technology in their construction, these buildings are symbolic of the city’s growth since Independence.

Also Read | Vista avenue project given heritage panel nod: Centre

Swapna Liddle, the convenor of the INTACH-Delhi, said that they are now working on detailed criteria to identify such modern heritage buildings and also grade them based on a thematic framework. There are rules to protect over 100-year-old structures of historical importance but none to recognise the city’s modern heritage and protect it. The absence of any guidelines defining post-Independence heritage value led to the demolition of the Hall of Nations. The Delhi High Court decided against intervening as only buildings older than 60 years were considered for heritage status.