By Baishali Adak
Published: 23:13 GMT, 6 October 2015 | Updated: 23:13 GMT, 6 October 2015
A proposal has been put forward to convert the iconic ‘Hall of Nations’ at Pragati Maidan into a ‘Museum of Indian Design’.
This idea, presented by eminent architect KT Ravindran, has also received support from the National Institute of Design (NID), the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), and the man who conceived Pragati Maidan – Raj Rewal.
Heritage conservationists and architects in the city have been discussing ways to salvage the landmark structure following reports that it will be demolished.
India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which organises exhibitions at the site, had earlier this year cleared the ‘Pragati Maidan Redevelopment Project’ as part of which Halls 1-6 would be razed to the ground.
A sum of Rs 600 crores would be invested to raise a convention centre, a hotel and parking space in that place.
ITPO officials had been complaining of how Pragati Maidan had become inadequate to hold expositions of the scale that are held today as compared to 1972 when it was built. The project is currently lying with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Heritage lovers, however, have been against this project citing Pragati Maidan as a symbol of Delhi and India’s contribution to the ‘Modernist’ movement in world architecture. There have been calls to accord it a heritage status to protect it from demolition.
In an appeal to the Ministry of Commerce, Ravindran said: “This whole row of buildings along Bhairon Marg – Hall of Nations at Pragati Maidan, National Science Centre, Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, etc – have been designed by our most celebrated Indian architects. If the government feels that they have outlived their utility, then they should be converted into public access buildings. It would be criminal to demolish them.”
“This edifice is not just recognised in India but abroad as well. The curator of Pompidou Museum in Paris has recently put in a request that Pragati Maidan should not be pulled down,” said legendary architect Raj Rewal.