Town Hall restoration project in doldrums, DPR not ready
The Centre had in early 2014 cleared the Rs 50-crore heritage renewal project for the nearly 150-year-old building, which earlier served as the headquarters for the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
The city landmark, now owned by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (North MCD), has been lying in neglect for years with plaster peeling off its famed Victorian architecture, windows left ajar, and its once pristine gardens, now home to rats, burrowing holes in the <g data-gr-id="36">lawns</g>.
The 50-crore fund from the Tourism Ministry is to be released once it receives the DPR from the North MCD, which has till date failed to do so. The DPR was supposed to ready by June 30, 2014.
And, while the Mayor of the BJP-ruled North MCD claimed that they have been making efforts to get the DPR ready, sources said, the project “seems to be going nowhere" at the moment.
“The DPR was supposed to be ready long ago but now after much delay, it is still not complete... it looks like the project is in doldrums,” a source said.
Top officials at the Tourism Ministry also said there was “nothing afoot” at the moment regarding the long-stalled restoration project. “Well, we haven’t received the DPR yet, which is needed for the release of funds. The proposal was made much earlier, but nothing afoot now, as far as this project is concerned," a Tourism Ministry official said.
The North MCD has commissioned the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the revival plan of the historic building.
Billed as one of the most ambitious projects by the North MCD, it has proposed a museum and a library in the Town Hall. The redeveloped premises will also have a <g data-gr-id="42">state-of the-art</g> conference hall, children’s corner, boutique hotel, multi-cuisine restaurants and audio-visual and meeting rooms. Known originally as the Lawrence Institute, the Hall was the original seat of the Delhi Municipality.
“We know the importance of this building, and it is part of our history and heritage. We are also working on the DPR, and seeking <g data-gr-id="39">partnership</g> with external agencies,” North MCD Mayor Ravinder Gupta said.
When asked the reason for <g data-gr-id="44">delay</g> in preparing the DPR and the timeline ahead for the project, he said: “We want to develop it as a heritage property and are working on it.”
“The building was originally used by the British to hold public meetings. Built in yellow-painted brick and stone, and carved white stone trim, it was bought by the municipality around 1866 for its use,” a senior North MCD official said.
Gupta added it is only to re-emphasise its heritage value and relive those old days that we are holding the next ordinary House meeting of the North MCD at the Town Hall. “The next ordinary meeting of North MCD for the month of October would be held in the Meeting Hall at the historic Town Hall building, at Chandni Chowk,” he said.
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