In about 20 years from now, the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ), known for its typical white houses built during the British era, will don a pink hue, according to a proposal floated by the Ministry of Urban Development.
The agency tasked with the job — the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) — has proposed to use Dholpur stones from Rajasthan to refurbish the century-old houses. Kota stones will be used to strengthen the foundation of the bungalows.
“These bungalows were built by the British between the war period when they were facing budget constraints… they were never built to last. The roofs were not even concrete. They kept the cost as low as possible to complete the construction. The residential bungalows are themselves of no heritage value unlike the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” AGK Menon, convenor, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said.
Concerned with the old bungalows, some of which it believes have become structurally unsafe, the Urban Development Ministry had moved a Cabinet note in 2012 to raze the structures and construct them all over again. Recently, the note was moved to the expenditure finance committee, which will do the cost-assessment of the project.
According to the proposal, 516 bungalows will be reconstructed in eight phases and the government will spend Rs 3,032 crore on it. The deadline is 2036. The first phase will see the makeover of 29 bungalows by the end of 2015. There are 1,200 bungalows in this zone. The CPWD spends Rs 40-45 crore annually on their upkeep.
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Earlier, the ministry was planning to replace the bungalows with multi-storeyed buildings but the proposal faced stiff resistance from scores of politicians and ministers.
“We aim to complete the construction by 2036-37 and will be involving the best of engineers. Each bungalow will be a single-storeyed RCC structure, with embedded steel bars or fibres to strengthen the structure,” a senior official said.
According to him, the construction will be state-of-the-art with modern amenities. For example, there is a provision for modular kitchens and the structures will be earthquake-resistant.
“Special attention will be paid to include measures to ward off monkeys, a menace in the area. The buildings and surrounding areas will be planned in such a way that monkeys are kept at bay,” the official said.
The CPWD plans to use granite stones for flooring of the external lobby, verandahs and kitchen.