India’s premier theatre training institute, the National School of Drama (NSD), which gave the country the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, has been waiting for over a year to get approval to expand its existing Mandi House campus. The institute has also put in a request to be recognised as an ‘Institute of National Importance’, detailing the contributions it has made to theatre, art and cinema, an NSD official told The Indian Express.
Though the Ministry of Culture has provided in-principle approval for an eight-storey building with an 800-seater auditorium, slated to come up within 10 metres of the existing building, NSD officials say the matter is pending for want of a “relaxation permission”, due to its location within the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone. “Since it is in LBZ area, it needed clearance for relaxation on building rules. NDMC is supposed to get it, but we have been told it has been pending between Ministry of Urban Development and New Delhi Municipal Council,” said the NSD source.
The Rs 180 crore project has already got the go-ahead from the Central Public Works Department, which executes government projects in the Lutyens’ zone. An NDMC official confirmed that NSD had sought permission. “The file regarding the NSD matter is under process,” said Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs spokesperson Rajeev Jain.
With the number of applicants applying for the three-year course increasing every year, and several students coming in from across the country, the urgency to provide better, spacious facilities was felt, said NSD officials. “The proposal to have a new building was cleared in-principle last year,” said sources at NSD. “The new building is designed to have light, sound and carpentry studios, a theatre with 800 seats, a library, and hostel. The blueprint is with NDMC and MoUD,” the source said.
The NSD, functioning from Bahawalpur House, (the residential palace of the Maharaja of Bahawalpur), only has some kacha structures along with the heritage building. The students — currently 78 in number — use makeshift studios. “For 50 years, we have been working from these limited facilities. Considering the contribution this institute has made to the country’s cultural development, it deserves a new building now,” said an official.
The proposal for elevating it as an Institute of National Importance is also pending before the Ministry of Culture. “It needs Cabinet clearance. Once we get it, the institute will be able to confer degrees. It will be treated as a centre of excellence and could get students from abroad as well,” he added.
Addressing the 18th edition of the Bharat Rang Mahotsav in February 2016, the then cultural secretary N K Sinha had said it was “unfortunate that a premier institution like NSD is working from a temporary building. To address the issue, the culture ministry has decided to build a permanent building and Rs 180 crore has been allotted in this regard”.