The Hall of Nations and the Hall of Industries, two of Delhi’s iconic modern architectural landmarks which were celebrated globally were demolished yesterday and were reduced to rubble. The Hall of Nations was razed four days after the Delhi High Court dismissed a writ petition filed by architect Raj Rewal to preserve the building. The halls, regarded as “modern architecture marvels”, were built at Pragati Maidan to celebrate 25 years of the country’s independence. The Hall of Nations opened its doors in November 1972 to 47 countries and 55 domestic exhibitors. It signalled the rise of modern India, says an Indian Express report. Not just this, the five structures — one of Hall of Nations and four of Hall of Industries were the world’s first pillarless concrete frame structures.
“The Hall of Nations and the Hall of Industries have been demolished to make way for a state-of-the-art modern complex which would add immensely to the profile of the capital city. The buildings were not categorised as heritage by the Heritage Conservation of Committee (HCC) as those are only 45 -years-old. So, we have demolished those for the new project. Demolition of the Nehru Pavilion is still going on,” a senior ITPO official told PTI. A joint press note by architect Raj Rewal, structural engineer Mahendra Raj, former convenor of INTACH, Delhi Chapter, AGK Menon and president, Indian Institute of Architects, Divya Kush said: “We consider the demolition of the Hall of Nations at Pragati Maidan an act of outrage.
The court’s verdict was based on the decision of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), set up for protecting heritage structures, which has held that only those buildings which are 60-years or older would be considered for heritage status. It also said since the HCC’s guidelines, formulated in February this year, have not been challenged, therefore the architect has no legal right to seek preservation of the structure.
“Seven exhibition centres, spread over an area of nearly 1.5 lakh sqm, will come up in Pragati Maidan. Besides, a world-class iconic convention centre, with a capacity of 7,000 seats will also be built. Also, the plan goes beyond Pragati Maidan, we will be constructing an underpass through the maidan to decongest traffic in and around the area,” an ITPO official said.