Central Vista: IGNCA, founded by Rajiv Gandhi, and Delhi’s iconic National Museum to be fully demolished

Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, historian Romila Thapar and British sculptor Anish Kapoor have urged the Modi govt to put a stop to the Central Vista Project and protect heritage buildings

Photo Courtesy: PTI
Photo Courtesy: PTI

NH Political Bureau

Founded by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the memory of his mother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) ­– which has been a premier art institute of the country for more than 35 years – is set to be demolished as part of the ongoing Central Vista project.

Designed by famous US architect Ralph Larner, the heritage building which houses a collection of heritage pieces, manuscripts and an extensive library had temporarily been moved to the nearby Janpath Hotel.

Earlier, it was claimed that only a portion of the IGNCA building will be “redeveloped” according to the new Master Plan and the main structure will not be touched by the government.

Sources said that IGNCA’s Chairman Ram Bahadur Rai, a reputed former journalist known to have right wing leanings, himself had expressed his reservations against any kind of “demolition or altercation” of the campus, but the government had ignored it.

Apart from the IGNCA, two other eminent historical buildings – the National Museum and National Archives (Annexe) – will also be demolished as part of the Central Vista Redevelopment project, as per a report published by the NDTV.

Media reports said other buildings designated to be demolished include the Shastri Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan, Vigyan Bhavan, Vice President's Residence, Jawahar Bhavan, Nirman Bhavan, Udyog Bhavan and Raksha Bhavan, together occupying 4,58,820 square metres.

It is relevant to note here that a few days ago, renowned scholars, historians and writers including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had urged the Modi government to stop the Central Vista project.

“We wish to draw particular attention to the upcoming demolition and relocation of the National Museum of India, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, and the National Archives Annexe. These demolitions are only one part of a mammoth undertaking that involves constructing a lavish new Parliament and turning open space, with parkland, shaded walks, trees that are almost a century old, and waterways, into modular office blocks,” reads the letter co-written by eminent personalities including historian Romila Thapar and Anish Kapoor, a British sculptor, knighted in 2013.

Analysts believe that the demolition of the National Museum of India – which holds several thousands of invaluable artefacts, rare statues of idols, original sculptures and priceless coins, paintings and artworks representing India’s rich political and cultural history – is fraught with risk of loss or damage of invaluable pieces of history.

Formally inaugurated in 1949 – two years after India got independence –National Museum of India houses the famous dancing girl of Harappa, Nataraja in Chola Bronze, relics of Buddha and Tanjore paintings.

As per media reports, these objects will be shifted to the North or South Block.

As per various media reports, though the main building of the National Archives will remain untouched, the annexe structure will be torn down. The archival records kept here include 45 lakh files, 25,000 rare manuscripts, over 1 lakh maps and 1.3 lakh Mughal documents.

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