Buildings in iconic Pragati Maidan to be razed to make way for the new

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The iconic structures at national Capital’s Pragati Maidan are soon to be razed to make way for a world-class Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre, as part of a Rs 2,254-crore makeover plan. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday, approved the India Trade Promotion Organisation’s (ITPO) proposal for redevelopment of the Pragati Maidan.

Since 1972, the ground has been the venue for the annual trade fair, and other exhibitions throughout the year. Not only that, many movies have been shot at the popular Hall of Nations, Nehru Pavilion, among other buildings in the area. In addition, the complex has a theatre — Shakuntalam — popular among college students for its reasonably-priced tickets, and the open-Hansdhwani Theatre for public performances and events, particularly musical events.

All these structures, designed by architect Raj Rewal and constructed in 1972 to mark 25 years of the country’s independence, will be demolished. In their place, new structures, including a convention hall five times bigger than Vigyan Bhawan, an underground parking, new access roads, and exhibition halls, will be constructed in the 115-acre exhibition ground.

The ITPO will provide Rs 1,200 crore out of its free reserves to fund the project, and will raise an institutional loan, with the government guarantee, of Rs 1,054 crore for the rest of the amount. The construction will be carried out by the National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited.

The redevelopment plan has been envisaged in two phases. In Phase I, scheduled to be finished by May 2019, nearly 3.26 lakh sqm of the area will be redeveloped. This will lead to a doubling up of the exhibition space, from the current 65,000 sqm to 1.19 lakh sqm. In the same phase, a state-of-the-art Convention Center, with a seating capacity of 7,000 people, will be created.

In Phase II, the ITPO aims to add another one lakh sqm of exhibition space. The plan includes creation of two access routes — one from Ring Road and another from Mathura Road — that will lead commuters directly to an underground parking lot. A surface parking lot will also be provided to the visitors.

“The underground lot will accommodate 4,800 cars while the surface parking lot will be for the VIP cars. The cost of the project will be Rs 78 crore. A multi-grade separator will also come up at the Mathura Road and the Bhairon Road intersection at a cost of Rs 75 crore,” an official said.

“This is one area where approval needs to be taken from the Delhi government, and hence, it has not been linked to the main project,” he added.

Welcoming the move, a source said: “There is no provision for parking at Pragati Maidan as of now, due to which traffic jams become unavoidable. Once these routes are created, vehicles headed to Pragati Maidan will bypass the Mathura Road traffic, and there will be no vehicles parked on the main road.”

Conceptualised in 2006, it has taken almost 11 years for the redevelopment plan to get off the ground. On an average, ITPO organises over 100 fairs annually. Major fairs hosted at Pragati Maidan include the India International Trade Fair (IITF), Delhi Book Fair, Stationery Fair, Nakshatra, Aahar – The International Food Fair, India International Leather Fair, India International Security Expo, among others. In addition to these, ITPO also leases its facilities to organisers of various trade events, including the World Book Fair, Wills Lifestyle and India Art Summit, and Auto Expo