Government moves to retain Lutyens heritage

September 10th, 2009 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Ambika Soni New Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) In a major step to retain the heritage of the Edwin Lutyens- designed North and South Blocks in the heart of the capital, the government Thursday laid down guidelines for carrying out repairs on the imposing secretariat buildings.
“Buildings of North and South Block are valuable heritage structures and need to be conserved in their original form and shape to the extent possible,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, adding that the cabinet had decided that henceforth, repairs of the two buildings would be conducted after approval by a special committee set up for the purpose.

“The cabinet approved that, in future, all addition-alteration work including repair work involving changes in the original specifications of these buildings will be carried out only after consulting the Special Advisory Committee on Conservation and Protection of North/South Block constituted for the purpose,” she said.

Soni was briefing reporters after a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The North and South Blocks flank Rajpath, the imposing boulevard that begins from the Rashtrapati Bhawan presidential palace and runs three km to the India Gate war memorial to the unknown soldier.

South Block, which lies to the right of Rashtrapati Bhawan, is home to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the ministries of defence and external affairs. North Block, to the left of the presidential palace, hosts the home and finance ministries.

The advisory committee is chaired by the additional director general (Architecture) of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and includes representative from the Archaeological Survey of India and the chief architect of the CPWD.

“In order to maintain consistency of approach in all future work, it is necessary to lay down clear technical guidelines to ensure that such heritage buildings are provided with modern amenities to meet the present day requirements, like climate-control and other facilities, without adversely affecting the heritage character and architecture of these buildings,” Soni explained.

Each year, a conservation audit of the two buildings would be undertaken “to ensure that the protocol and guidelines issued in this regard have been adhered to”, Soni said, adding the report would be sent to the concerned ministries for corrective action.

“Separately, a bi-annual conservation audit would be undertaken by a team of three professionals and placed before the cabinet for information,” the minister added.

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