Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage
May 14, 2013
Heritage conservation Committee,
Core 6A, 1st Foor,
India Habitat Centre
New Delhi - 110 003
Re: Conservation of Contemporary Architectural Heritage of Delhi
In the past, the Heritage Conservation Committee had focussed on the need to conserve the historic architectural heritage of Delhi. In this regard it had identified 1208 buildings (including 174 buildings already protected by the Archaeological Survey of India) valued for their heritage characteristics and had them notified by the respective Municipal authorities within whose jurisisdiction they existed at present. This took the story upto 1947.
The cut-off date of 1947 was a convenient benchmark to identify the initial list of heritage buildings. However, the heritage value of buldings are not dependent on its (sic!) antiquity or limited to a specific period. It could also be defined on the basis of their iconic or associational stature in the contemporary bult environment as the rigerous DoCoMoMo programme has demonstrated internationally. Thus, while the Archaeological Survey of India considers 100 years to be the minimum age of a building to be accorded heritage status, the HCC extended the period upto 1947 which enabled it to identify buildings like the Rastrapati Bhawan and the Capitol Complex as architectural heritage which would otherwise not have been protected and so could be modified, altered and even replaced on the basis of evolving exigencies. This would have resulted in irreparable cultural losses.
We now propose to extend that logic to identify a few iconic buildings built after independence. This was a period of architectural history when India/Delhi was forging a 'modern' identity, and many of the buildings of this period possess the same valuable characteristics of heritage that defined the historical buildings protected earlier. Some of these buildings are threatened to be demolished to pave the way for "world class" facilities. There is no reason why the imperative to conserve the classics of the past cannot coexist with the proposed "world class" facilities. This could be achieved if the classics of modern architecture are also notified for protection.
We submit a tentative list of post-independence buildings which the HCC may like to consider for notification as heritage structures in terms of the Delhi Building Bye-Laws, 1983.Thanking you
A. G. Krishna Menon
Eencl. As above
CC: The Chairman, Delhi Urban Arts Commission, Core 6A, 1st Floor,
India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003 (with enclosure)