On this day in 1911, the shift of the Capital to Delhi was announced; Coronation Park restoration now a case of missed deadlines.
A little over a century ago, on December 12, 1911, King George V and Queen Mary announced the shifting of the imperial capital to Delhi from Calcutta in what came to be known as the Delhi Durbar of 1911.
Since then, the Coronation Park, the historic site where the declaration was made, has undergone landscaping and restoration work, especially over the last two years.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had signed an MoU with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in 2009 for undertaking the restoration project at an estimated cost of Rs 20 crore.
The park was to be opened to public after renovation on December 11, 2011, to coincide with the centenary celebrations of New Delhi. However, after missing this deadline, it was scheduled to be opened this December. But, the deadline has been missed again.
INTACH’S convenor (Delhi chapter) A G K Menon said, “Our designs are ready. We are waiting for approval from the DDA. INTACH cannot take a decision without seeking their approval.”
DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar said, “Almost 80 per cent of the development work on the land has been done. Work on lake development and treatment of sub-soil water is in progress. While an official deadline has not been fixed yet, we expect the work to be completed in another 3-4 months. We are awaiting some drawings from INTACH.”
The redevelopment plan includes the construction of a heritage interpretation centre, an amphi-theater, a play area for children and the setting up of a flagpost, apart from landscaping work.
According to officials working at the site, the heritage interpretation centre and the walls around the statues which are supposed to carry historical information are two main areas where work is pending.
“Almost 90 per cent of the pathways have been laid. It will take another 15-20 days for this work to be finished. The roof of the heritage interpretation centre has been constructed,” one of the officials said.
Owing to the fact that the park is in a low-lying area, work suffered due to flooding in the monsoon.
“Water had to be pumped out and this took a lot of time. A water-disposal system is going to be put in place to overcome this problem,” the official said.