The Connaught Place re-development project in the Capital which has already had more than its fair share of controversies finds itself at the centre of a storm again with the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Urban Art Commission locking horns over the nature of completion of the restoration project.

The NDMC is of the view that the civic body is not obliged to approach the DUAC for obtaining a no-objection certificate after the completion of the CP project nor is it binding upon the civic body to incorporate the DUAC recommendations regarding the nature of restoration work and other aspects. The DUAC on the other hand maintains that it is mandatory for the civic body to approach it for an NOC after the project's completion and also incorporate its suggestions given at the time of taking sanction for the project from them.

The NDMC had earlier submitted the plans for façade restoration of Connaught Place C Block to the DUAC on a sample basis and went ahead. Following this submission and subsequent completion of works on three sides of the façade, a joint site visit was undertaken by the Commission on July 14, 2008, after which certain observations were made by it regarding the nature of work completed. The Commission had pointed out problems with vehicular movement planned in the Inner Circle and raised objections to the nature of restoration work carried out in terms of alteration of original geometrics, symmetry, profile of arches, use of granite flooring instead of sandstone, spacing of plaster grooves and signage system to ensure authenticity and quality and adherence to conservation objectives.

After making these observations and making recommendations to the civic body to rectify the “flaws”, the Commission gave the nod to the NDMC to go ahead with the façade restoration work of the entire CP and approach the DUAC again after finally completing the project for the NOC. However, the NDMC is now denying the need for any such procedure to be followed.

The entire CP restoration project which includes construction of subways, underground services tunnel apart from façade restoration is likely to be completed only next year. DUAC chairman K. T. Ravindran says: “The DUAC is a statutory body. However, its recommendations are binding upon the local civic bodies and it is mandatory for them to approach us both at the time of sanction of the project and its completion for the grant of NOC from us. When the NDMC finally approaches us we would be comparing the final CP project to the original recommendations given at the time of sanction and then accordingly take the call on the grant of the NOC so the ball is in their court.”

However, a senior NDMC official says: “The DUAC clearance was required only at the time of sanction of the project and it is not binding upon the NDMC to approach the DUAC after the project completion for the NOC. While our attempt is to incorporate as many of the suggestions made by DUAC [as possible] but since they are meant in only an advisory capacity we are not obliged to follow them. We had appealed to them for use of granite flooring to which they did not agree but after that we have not approached them.”

According to sources, the undercurrent of disagreement between the two bodies could be sourced to DUAC's act of turning down approval to an earlier project proposed by the NDMC which envisaged developing a park in an open space right next to the Ring Road stretch near Hotel Hyatt.

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