Pragati Maidan‘s iconic structure – Hall Of Nations has been demolished. The building has been razed just a couple of days after Delhi High Court dismissed a petition seeking shield for the Hall of Nations. Not only the Hall of Nations demolished but the Hall of Industry has also been razed. Next hall awaiting demolition is the Nehru Pavilion.
The architect of these Halls, Raj Rewal, had filed a petition in the High Court to stop demolition of these structures but Court dismissed the plea. Indian Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) razed these structures overnight on Sunday, the 23rd April. 2 more previous petitions filed by Indian Institute of Architects had earlier been dismissed.
As per the statements of Heritage Conservation Committee, only the buildings which are minimum 60 years old can be considered for inclusion in the heritage list and hence Hall of Nations cannot be considered a heritage building. Reacting to this statement, Rewal said that while the Government is going to celebrate Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh and other buildings which are less than 60 years old, it is not interested in preserving a building which was a real example of “Make in India”.
This move of ITPO has left conservationists perplexed as a petition filed by them under the body Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) is still being heard in the court with next hearing scheduled for May 1. This seems to be of no use now as the damage has already been done. Talking about the demolition, AGK Menon, former convener, Delhi Chapter INTACH said “It’s all over now. As the ITPO did not wait for the court to pronounce its decision, we have lost all hope. Hall of Nations was demolished quietly on Sunday night when the entire world slept. As these iconic buildings no more exist, we cannot move the apex court.”
These structures are being razed for the upcoming Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre of ITPO. The cost of this project is reported to be approx. Rs.2,254 Crores. The Convention Centre is going to be a world-class centre having hotels, Shopping Malls, Food court, water body displays, helipad and more attractions. For this purpose, Hall of Industry, Hall of Nations, 5 state pavilions, 3 central ministry pavilions an Hall nos.15 and 20 have already been demolished. ITPO has planned to raze all structures except Halls 7 to 12A. Demolition work is expected to be completed by June this year, after which work on the new Integrated Exhibition and Convention Centre shall start.