The decision by shoe manufacturing company Puma to paint the wall of a heritage building in Chawri Bazar in old Delhi with graffiti, as part of an advertisement campaign, has led to backlash from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The walls of the building, which figures in the supplementary list of heritage sites, were painted over a month ago, but the matter was brought to light by INTACH’s Delhi Chapter Convenor Swapna Liddle on Sunday. Head of Marketing at Puma India, Debosmita Majumder, said that “all necessary permissions were sought”. “Multiple partners were involved in putting this video together, and we believe all the required permissions have been obtained to carry out the shoot. However, given the point raised we are investigating the matter from our side. We are proud of our country’s heritage and would always act in its best interest as per our knowledge,” Majumder said.
The supplementary list of 554 Heritage Sites — notified under section 23 of the Delhi Building Bye Laws, 1983 for Conservation and Protection — states that “no advertising signs shall be displayed without the prior approval of the authority”.
Liddle said, “The law clearly states that no development or alteration shall be allowed without permission from different authorities, including vice-chairman of the DDA, and commissioner of the municipality.” She added that before granting permission, the agency has to act in accordance with the advise of the heritage conservation committee. Two other buildings in the vicinity have also been painted.
The owner of the building in question, Arun Khandelwal, however, said the structure is not a heritage building and the company had taken permission from him before shooting the advertisement. “The area is looking better now, it is more lively,” he said. “This is a private property and the graffiti is making the area look more beautiful. If there is something on which action needs to be taken, it is how the walls of the Old Delhi are defaced by posters and advertisements,” he added.
Liddle, however, said, “The building was painted very inappropriately causing permanent damage to the carved sandstone, limestone plaster and Lahori bricks. Those who made and approved this advertisement, those who stood by while this was done, are all responsible for this insensitive treatment.”
The building is also categorised as a ‘haveli’ and a private property, according to the supplementary list of 554 Heritage Sites on the Delhi government’s website.