A news item on (only) one newkerala.com announced in first week of June 2004) that President of India is to honour architects of three complexes that Indian Builders Congress selected out of all the buildings constructed in the country last year for its annual awards for excellence, instituted to encourage new talent and innovativeness among architects. Two of the three (Delhi Government Secretariat and Garden of Five Senses) involve illegalities in terms of planning law and the third raises at least questions about professional ethics.

Text of letter of 11.06.04 to Council of Architecture President

Mr P R Mehta, President, CoA

IHC, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi – 110003

Sub: Indian Builders Congress awards - request for investigation
Ref: 'President to honour three architects', India Abroad News Service, June 7, on www.newkerala.com12

Dear Mr Mehta,

As per above news (perhaps not reported in national media) that I saw on a mail-list3 our President, with union urban development minister, is / was to give Indian Builders Congress 'annual awards for excellence', meant 'to encourage new talent ...among architects'. The projects selected after IBC 'scrutinised all the buildings constructed in the country last year' are one in Bhuj by EFN Rebeiro and Garden of Five Senses and Players Building in Delhi. (Also 'selected' is Anil Laul, oddly described as 'architect in Haryana's Anangpur town').

Prof Rebeiro is a planner, hardly 'eligible' for awards for 'new talent ... among architects', and Director of Association of Metropolitan Development Authorities, involved in Delhi Master Plan (DMP). If I was at AMDA I would not do projects or accept awards from builders and, in view of DDA scam of 2003 and Supreme Court unequivocally upholding last month DMP processes (with scathing remark about the so-called 'master plan guidelines' seeking to subvert them), also take issue on builder awards for DMP violations in ridge and riverbed. 

Garden of Five Senses is DMP violation in ridge area, J-Zone, for which Zonal Plan is not notified and DMP land use is rural / regional park (ridge). Zonal Plan by due process would find the site inappropriate for 'touristy' park likely to boost real estate in the ground water critical area and appropriate for dairies (rural area use, being shifted out to detriment of milk production) or Aravali Biodiversity Park (coming up - with eviction of old settlements despite UPA NCMP commitments - on a site inclusive of about 40 hectares meant for housing).

Players Building is DMP violating riverbed encroachment built for Asian Games. Uses later suggested for it included hostel (as proposed for Commonwealth Games Village currently coming up in identical violation) for SPA, whose hostel building is falling apart. Revised DMP approved in 1990 did not mark the site for Government Office and its use for Secretariat without DMP amendment is a case of misuse. Honouring this misuse while compliance of court orders for clearance of all riverbed encroachments is underway is indefensible. 

Even if you find trivial my plannerly concerns about law, institutions, awards, ridge, riverbed, wilful exclusions and inclusions, etc, my question about this particular selection from nation-wide search for new talent and excellence in architecture survives. And you would agree that even a shadow of doubt over anything to do with that calls for investigation when the office of the President, besides urban development minister (having constitutional responsibilities in the instant cases on account of AMDA and Delhi Master Plan), is dragged into it.

I am writing to the President to apologize for the failure of architecture and planning professions to prevent such a situation from arising and I request the Council to investigate these awards and, since it is now associated with MCD's so-called 'byelaw reform' that impinges DMP processes, also to clarify if practice of architecture in disregard of planning law invites disciplinary action by the Council. 

Yours sincerely,

[signed]
Gita Dewan Verma / Planner

B.Arch (SPA, gold medalist); M.Planning (SPA, gold medalist); PG Dip-Research (IHS-Rotterdam, top rank); Dip-Training (DoPT) Formerly: Senior Fellow (HUDCO-HSMI), Visiting Faculty (SPA, TVB SHS), Consultant (DfID, IHSP, Nuffic, UNICEF, etc) Currently: Independent researcher / writer and consultant to citizens’ groups synergising on Master Plan Implementation Support Group

  • cc: + Secretary, Delhi Urban Arts Ccomission
  • ( in continuation of correspondence about DUAC clearances, etc, for architecture in violation of DMP and in view of its association with MCD 'byelaw reform' ) + Various Mail Lists ( for information ) 
  • 1. Source: India Abroad News Service, IANS, 7th June, 2004
  • 2.

    [in-enaction] scan: Honoured Architects (reason unknown)

    message ## 00606…
    +  From: "Architexturez." <[email protected]>
    +  Date: Tue, 08 Jun 2004 02:20:42 +0530

    http://www.newkerala.com/news-daily/news/features.php?action=fullnews&showcomments=1&id=21740

    India News > President to honour three architects

    New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) :

    President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will honour the architects of three complexes, two in the capital here and one in Gujarat's Bhuj town, for exemplary work in 2003. 

    Jose Kurien who designed Delhi's Garden of Five Senses, K. Srinivasan who designed the Rehabilitation of Players Building in the capital and E.F.N. Riberio who created the Shri G.K. General Hospital in Bhuj will be honoured at a ceremony Tuesday. 

    The three were short-listed after the Indian Builders Congress (IBC) scrutinised all the buildings constructed in the country last year. 

    Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad will attend the event.

    Excellence certificates will also be awarded for the design of a technology park in the Orissa capital Bhubaneswar and the development of new technology for earthquake resistant buildings to Anil Laul, an architect in Haryana's Anangpur town. 

    A special award will be given to A.K. Jain who designed an officer's mess in Andhra Pradesh's Secunderabad town for being the most talented young artist under 35. 

    "The exquisite design of the Garden of Five Senses, the efficient retrofitting of the rehabilitation building and the resourceful construction of G.K. hospital make these exemplary landmarks for other artists in India," said O.P. Goel, chairman of IBC. 

    "We have instituted these awards to encourage new talent and boost innovativeness among architects here," he said. 

    The 'annual awards for excellence in built environment' were instituted in 1996 and are given every year for outstanding work done in building construction. 

    After the awards ceremony Tuesday, builders from all over India will discuss at a two-day seminar energy management techniques that can be incorporated during building construction.

  • 3. 2004-06-08 07:50 [in-enaction] scan: Honoured Architects (reason unknown) http://www.architexturez.net/node/2239