The North Delhi Municipal Corporation on Thursday gave its anticipatory approval for the redevelopment of former civic headquarters — the historic Town Hall — at Chandni Chowk. The corporation aims to restore the Town Hall into “a centre of cultural and social heritage.” However, due to lack of funding from the Union Ministry of Tourism, as earlier envisaged, the revamping of the Town Hall will now take place through a public-private-partnership (PPP).
“The Town Hall will be developed as an attractive tourist destination of international standards, following which, the Town Hall would emerge as a centre of culture and social heritage — depicting the history, culture and the life of Delhi,” Mayor Preeti Agarwal said. The civic body’s plan to revamp the complex includes: setting up a craft bazar, dancing fountain, a maze, light and sound programmes, street food carts, activity area for children, boutique hotel, food court, courtyard and sculpture garden, a digital library, lecture rooms, a museum, fine dining areas and other facilities at the premises.
The proposed museum at the venue is likely to occupy an area of over 1,500 square metres on the ground floor, and it will display a magnitude of historical and cultural artefacts. North Delhi Commissioner Praveen Gupta said that the project would be taken up in the next nine months and is likely to be completed within two years. “Apart from depicting the history of Delhi, the project is also expected to earn revenue for the corporation,” the commissioner added.
The Town Hall was built in 1860-65, on a site previously occupied by Begum Ki Sarai and Bagh — two monuments which were demolished after the Revolt of 1857. Originally named The Lawrence Institute, Town Hall was one of the first buildings to be constructed in Shahjahanabad after 1857. It has been listed as a Grade A Heritage Building, by the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (the unified body).
Post trifurcation, the North and South civic bodies moved their headquarters to the civic centre near old Delhi, while the East corporation moved to Nigam Bhawan in Patparganj. The new headquarter for the South Corporation will come up in the Pragati Maidan area by 2019. The concept-report for the project is expected to be completed within the next three months. The total area of the Town Hall complex is about 16 acres, and the main building — which will house the civic headquarters — will occupy approximately 8,000 square metres.
More than 150 years old, the building needs to refurbished at several places — internal and external plasters will have to be replaced.