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Dec 12 approaching,but Coronation Park upgrade far from complete

The Coronation Park,where King George V announced the shift of national capital from Calcutta to Delhi on December 12,1911,is yet to be ready for the centenary year celebrations.

Written by Sweta Dutta | New Delhi |
November 23, 2011 12:27:02 am

The Coronation Park,where King George V announced the shift of national capital from Calcutta to Delhi on December 12,1911,is yet to be ready for the centenary year celebrations.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA),which owns the park and is in charge of the facelift process,is in no hurry now to complete the upgrade projects as no events have been marked for the venue in December.

The DDA had set the deadline for completion of work as March 2012,when it handed out the contract for civil work in July. It had,however,asked the contractor to complete a part of the work by December. Officials at the DDA said the revised target for completion is May 2012.

Basic civil work at the site — a few pathways — is ready and the craftsmen are carving out jaalis that will be used to decorate the venue.

According to officials,the park is in a low-lying area and gets flooded during the monsoons. Due to this four months of work was lost this year,they said.

“Even the British abandoned this site as it is a low-lying area and remained flooded for a significant part of the year. Working on this site is difficult but we have overcome the monsoon months and work is picking up pace now,” said a senior DDA official. “Also most of the stonework is fine chisel dressed done manually by craftsmen and no machine cut stonework is being used. This is time-consuming,but will give a better look once it is ready.”

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH),a heritage body,which had prepared a detailed conservation plan for the site,has now been roped in to conserve the statues and the obelisk. The DDA on Monday asked INTACH to begin work at the site,but the latter maintained that the entire conservation work will take at least four months and nothing can be ready by December 12.

INTACH’s convenor (Delhi chapter) A G K Menon said,“Conservation is a time-consuming process and it cannot be rushed. We will need at least three to four months to finish cleaning and consolidating the statues and the obelisk,all of which lie in a state of neglect. However,since there are no rains right now,this is the best time to begin the conservation work.”

Around five years ago,DDA and INTACH had first announced that they would develop the park together for Rs 20 crore,and a contract in this regard was signed at the end of 2009. Even after INTACH submitted the detailed plan for development of the site,DDA gave out contracts for civil work only in July this year and has signed up INTACH for the conservation work only recently.

The plan for the site is to reshuffle the location of existing statues around the obelisk and develop the garden in a geometric pattern. The highlight of the project is the interpretation centre,where extensive information on the history of the Delhi Durbar and its significance will be imparted. While audio-visual facilities will initially be available in English and Hindi,they will be extended to other languages later.

This park had witnessed the coronation of King George V on December 11,1911,and the shift of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. It has the largest and tallest statue of King George V on a pedestal.

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