Protecting heritage: Blueprint to conserve Rashtrapati Bhavan

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) In a bid to restore Rashtrapati Bhavan “to the best extent possible” and send a strong message about the importance of preservation and protection of the country’s glorious heritage, a conservation plan that would serve as a blueprint for all future constructions in the 330 acre presidents’ estate has been submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee.

The Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP), as desired by Mukherjee was submitted to him WEdnesday by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan, a statement issued Thursday by the president’s office said.

“President Mukherjee after assuming office had personally instructed that a CCMP be prepared to serve as a blue print for all future constructions so as to restore the President’s Estate to the best extent possible, to its original plan as outlined by Sir Edward Lutyens and others who planned the complex,” said the statement.

INTACH was then engaged as consultant for the purpose and the convenor of its Delhi Chapter A.G.K. Menon, constituted a team of over 40 experts in the field of conservation, urban design, landscape, disaster management, infrastructure and services, among others for preparing the report.

“INTACH’s mandate was to identify the original planning principles of Rashtrapati Bhavan and its relation to the overall master plan of New Delhi in terms of urban and landscape design, establish the significance of existing layout vis-a-vis the original design intent, define view corridors, spaces and other features that establishes the heritage characteristics of the area to be conserved, provide guidelines for future development and draft a CCMP for the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” said the statement.

Determined to send a strong message across the country that efforts should be made to “preserve and protect the country’s glorious heritage”, Mukherjee asked the secretariat to examine the report and draw up a time bound programme for the implementation of its recommendations.

According to the president’s secretary, Omita Paul, the work to implement the report’s recommendations has already begun.

Meanwhile, the CCMP has noted that while the status of Rashtrapati Bhavan as a Grade 1 heritage building defines the limits of intervention to conserve the building and the site, it also accommodates the highest office of the government, including the residence of the president.

This makes it a ‘living heritage’ building which creates genuine needs to cater to its efficient functioning.The vision guiding the preparation of the CCMP has taken into account the wider context of the Estate and its contemporary functional needs.

The CCMA stresses the importance and need for continuous maintenance to conserve the heritage characteristics of Rashtrapati Bhavan precincts and highlights the need for a dedicated Heritage Cell in the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

It took eight years, from 1921 to 1929, to build the 340 room red sandstone mansion.

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