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360° View: In ‘Hall of Nations’ Ruins, a Country Loses Its Past

The Halls were built to celebrate 25 years of India’s Independence in 1972.

Published
India
3 min read
360° View: In ‘Hall of Nations’ Ruins, a Country Loses Its Past

On Tuesday morning, India woke up to find one of its best architectural marvels reduced to ruins. And its heritage gone up in smoke and dust.

The iconic Hall of Nations and Hall of Industries in Pragati Maidan in Delhi, a landmark of modern architecture in India, was demolished by the Indian Trade Promoters Organisation (ITPO). Four days earlier, the Delhi HC had dismissed a writ petition by architect Raj Rewal to preserve the buildings as ‘heritage.’

The IPTO carried out the demolition to make way for an Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC) as a part of a larger redevelopment plan in Pragati Maidan.

The Halls were built to celebrate 25 years of the country’s Independence in 1972 and were inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
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In a statement, architect Raj Rewal, structural engineer Mahendra Raj, noted urban planner AGK Menon, and President of Indian Institute of Architects Divya Kush, have all called the demolition “an outrage.”

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The Hall of Nations was critically acclaimed by architects and artists worldwide for being the world’s first large-span scape frame in reinforced concrete, and also a part of INTACH’s list of ‘modern heritage’ sites.

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
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(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

However, the Heritage Conservation Committee formed by the government recently said that Hall of Nations could not be preserved as ‘modern heritage’, since heritage structures have to be at least “60 years old.”

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
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(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

In their statement in response to the demolition, architect Raj Rewal and others said that the case was being considered in the Delhi High Court and further hearings had been scheduled for 27 April and 1 May 2017.

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

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(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

After the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, in January 2017, approved the ITPO’s plan to redevelop Pragati Maiden, museums from around the world, including Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, had asked the government to reconsider their decision.

Architects and Delhiites have since expressed their grief over the loss of an iconic landmark in Delhi’s public history.

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
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(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
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(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

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(Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

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