The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated today (July 4, 2017) restored heritage buildings in Schedule A of the Presidents Estate.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said he was happy to inaugurate the restored heritage buildings. This brings to a conclusion a task taken up in this Presidency to restore all important heritage structures in the precincts of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The President said that Rashtrapati Bhavan was declared a Grade A heritage building by NDMC in 2009. Time had taken a toll on the life and health of this building, which was occupied 86 years ago. The task of restoration was difficult and strenuous and would not have been possible without dedication and determination. He said that he was happy that all heritage features of the restored buildings have been kept intact.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary to the President, Smt. Omita Paul said that the restoration work had been carried out at the behest of the President and was in accordance with his vision of restoring the glory of the heritage building as well as to create a harmonious and happy family of Rashtrapati Bhavan. She mentioned that on the 10th of this month, a guest house in Ashiana, Dehradun would be inaugurated which is another PBG property.
The restoration work has been carried out on the initiative of Presidents Secretariat and CPWD along with INTACH have been partners with Rashtrapati Bhavan in this endeavour. The restored buildings which were inaugurated today include (1) the Regimental Quarters Guard Building which was built as Guard room and coach house; (2) the MI Area which was originally constructed as a hospital for men; (3) four Barracks originally constructed as living quarters of the Indian Infantry; (4) the PBG officer's Mess Building which was built as British Infantry Mess and (5) the Army Officer's Mess which was built as British Officers Quarters.
All the buildings, including those inaugurated today, were precisely documented and analyzed prior to restoration work. The restoration undertaken includes preservation of original plaster, Kota stone flooring, repair of conical obelisks, cleaning and painting of fire places etc. as per original design.
A Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) for the Presidents Estate was submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee on June 26, 2013 by INTACH. The Executive summary to the CCMP noted that while the status of Rashtrapati Bhavan as a Grade A Heritage Building defined the limits of intervention to conserve the building and the site, it also accommodated the highest office of the country, including the residence of the President. This made it a living heritage building which created genuine needs to cater to its efficient functioning. The CCMP was drafted to address both imperatives. The vision guiding the preparation of the CCMP took into account the wider context of the Estate and its contemporary functional needs. The CCMP stressed the importance and need for continuous maintenance to conserve the heritage characteristics of the Rashtrapati Bhavan precincts.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan and its precincts were notified as a Grade A heritage building by the New Delhi Municipal Council under Clause 23 of the Delhi Building Byelaws, 1983. While the buildings and landscape still strongly retain the original flavor of their design, the subject of additional functional requirements to cater to the needs of the Presidents Estate was required to be addressed if the site was to maintain the original character of architecture and landscape. In this context, the Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage was commissioned to prepare the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP).
Though Rashtrapati Bhavan is a single unified complex, for pragmatic reasons it was decided to break the project in two phases - first the precincts and then, the main building of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
In 2015, in the first phase of CCMP, two clock Towers in Schedule A and Schedule B areas of Rashtrapati Bhavan (heritage structures built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1924 and 1925 respectively) were restored. Restoration work of both the Clock Towers was done by INTACH while repair of Clocks was done by IIT, Delhi.
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