ITPO contended that most buildings in Pragati Maidan, were in a dilapidated state and that is why the Auto Expo, which was held there every year

The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) on Thursday requested the Delhi High Court not to interfere in the proposed demolition of Pragati Maidan here to set up a world-class exhibition centre, saying the Rs 2500-crore project would be a good development for the city. Batting for demolition of the buildings in the area, ITPO argued before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the project, which would also decongest the heavy traffic prevalent in the area, was approved at the highest levels, including the Prime Minister’s Office.

It said under the project, an international exhibition and convention centre with a seating capacity of 7000 and parking for 4800-5000 cars would be built in the 123 acres where Pragati Maidan exists and once it comes up the G20 Summit would be held there. ITPO contended that most of the buildings in Pragati Maidan, which was inaugurated in November 1972, were in a dilapidated state and that is why the Auto Expo, which was held there every year, was shifted in 2014 to India Expo Mart in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

It said that the Haryana Bhawan and the Defence Pavilion there have already been dismantled and all the other states have agreed to demolition of their respective bhawans there. The arguments by ITPO were made during hearing of a plea by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) seeking protection of 62 buildings, including the Hall of Nations and the Nehru Pavilion in Pragati Maidan, which it has identified as modern heritage.

INTACH, in its plea, has alleged “complete abdication” of responsibility by the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) and the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) to protect the city’s “contemporary architectural heritage”. HCC in turn told the court that the list of 62 buildings, which includes the India International Centre, the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Lotus Temple (Bahai House of Worship) and the Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts and Crafts Museum, has no sanctity.

INTACH opposed this contention, saying it was called by HCC to give a list of buildings which fall under the category of ‘modern heritage’ and that is why it gave the names of the 62 buildings. After part arguments were heard on behalf of all the parties, the court listed the matter for further hearing on January 23.