Delhi High Court today expressed displeasure over the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) not having any criteria for deciding ‘modern heritage’ status of post-Independence buildings in the national capital ever since the panel was set up in 2004.
“From 2004 you have no criteria? Have you held any building to be heritage since then? If yes, on what basis?” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva asked HCC and added “It appears they are only enjoying, not working. Why have a committee, disband it”.
The court made the observation during hearing of a petition filed by the Delhi chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) alleging “complete abdication” of responsibility by HCC and Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) to protect the city’s “contemporary architectural heritage”.
INTACH, in its plea filed through advocate Ishwar Mohanty, has sought protection of 62 buildings, including the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion in Pragati Maidan, in the national capital which it has identified as modern heritage.
The court also observed that ITPO has been projecting the Hall of Nations as a iconic structure and the organisation has also been awarded for it.
The court while ticking off HCC, after it said one of its sub-committees was yet to decide which buildings are heritage due to lack of criteria, issued notice to HCC, DUAC, the three municipal corporations, New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and sought their responses to INTACH’s plea.
It also issued notice to the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) which owns the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion.
The court allowed ITPO to be made a party in the case despite objection raised by INTACH and listed the matter for hearing on September 15.
It did not pass any interim order after ITPO said that decision to demolish the two buildings and refurbish and renovate the area was taken in 2010 and this will take time as tendering process for the same was going on.
The court also took note of a letter sent in May this year by National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) which had said that dismantling of the buildings will start in December this year.
“In view of this no interim order is being passed injuncting the tender process. In case dismantling starts before next date, petitioner can approach the court,” Justice Sachdeva said.
The Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavillion have been earmarked for demolition by the government to pave the way for a new world-class facility.
In its plea, INTACH has submitted that the post-1947 period was one of architectural importance since at that time the country was forging a “modern identity”.
INTACH, in its plea, has contended that the list of 62 such structures was submitted to HCC and DUAC in 2013 but till date they have not notified the list resulting in a “legal vacuum”.
The NGO has also sought directions from the court to the civic bodies to not damage or demolish any of these buildings.
As per INTACH, besides the Hall of Nations, other modern structures that need to be protected include India International Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Lotus Temple (Bahai House of Worship), Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts and Crafts Museum which currently are not protected under any law.
( Source – PTI )