Chandigarh Endangered

Le Corbusier's modernist city, long a target of criticism from urban planners, is reportedly being sold off piece by piece. Preservationists are incensed and are leading an effort to preserve the city's signature style.

International Herald Tribune design critic Alice Rawsthorn recently drew up a petition to encourage the preservation of Chandigarh.

Alan Rapp reports that the preservation effort is in response to a massive campaign to sell off elements of the city's original design:

"With the knowledge of-and in some cases, it is asserted, the complicity of-local ministries, furniture, light fixtures, and architectural drawings have been auctioned off in the international antiquities market."

Full Story: The struggle to save Chandigarh

Comments

Comments

Chandigarh Endangered

Prakash M. Apte
Urban Development Consultant

Why only Chandigarh?
There is a systematic attempt in progress to sell off another capital city, Gandhinagar of Gujarat state. As one of its Planner I was constrained to write a letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat which I reproduce below. Needless to say I am yet to receive a reply.

Shri Narendrabhai Modi,
Respected Chief Minister, Gujarat.

Sir,
Are you aware that in the guise of re-planning Gandhinagar, the Consultants appointed by GUDA ( Gandhinagar Urban Development Authority) have administered a deadly poison to kill this well planned capital city which is the pride of Gujarat? Only you can stop the poison from spreading by immediately instituting counter measures. How?

Remedies to counter Consultant’s proposals that seek to destroy and sell off Gandhinagar :

1. a) The consultants have designated a 5 km. long (stretching from the boundary of the Gandhinagar district to the boundary of the new capital site) and ¼ km. wide belt of land on both sides,(an area of 2.50 sq.km.) of the Koba-Gandhinagar expressway with an FSI of 2.00 for commercial/allied uses. This land,(falling within the periphery control area of Gandhinagar that is restricted only for Farm house development, as in case of Chandigarh)
when developed can accommodate shops and residential towers that can house 62,500 families in apartments of 80 sq.mts. each with a population of over 3,00,000 (double the population, for which Gandhinagar was planned!) With the connivance of the consultant the vested interests must have bought these lands in advance of the proposals. The consultants thus seek to create another city of over 3 lakh population between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar that will certainly choke the growth of Gandhinagar. The idea probably is to join up Ahmedabd with the new capital so that Ahmedabad can dominate!

b) The “Gamthan” (designated village built up area)areas of 7 villages (Pethapur, Nana-Chiloda, Kolawada, Vavol, Adalaj, Koba, Zundal) just abutting the city limits of Gandhinagar are increased arbitrarily (much beyond their natural growth requirements) to allow private residential development. These enhanced Gamthan areas (must have already been bought by land speculators with the connivance of the Consultants) together may accommodate another 30,000 apartments having a population of over 1,50,000. Thus these private lands will house almost double the population Gandhinagar was planned for!

The Consultants, while thus dealing a death blow to the organic growth of Gandhinagar, have helped Private developers to get cheap lands to develop commercial & residential apartments with access to FREE physical infrastructure (roads-water supply etc,) health, education and cultural facilities provided in Gandhinagar by the State Government.

Remedy: The orders of GUDA on items a) & b) should be canceled with retrospective effect. Instead, more residential sectors can be developed in Gandhinagar as already envisaged in the original plan.

2. Area for cultural facilities, including the present rose garden in the city square in sector 17 -city centre- is proposed to be converted to commercial use killing Gujarat’s traditional concept of 'city square' & destroying the 'urban design' of the new capital city.

Remedy:This conversion to Commercial use should be canceled immediately.

3.An area along J road (Eastern peripheral road along the river Sabarmati) across sector 9 covered by ravines, originally proposed for conservation as an adventure park is now designated by the consultant to be used for residential purpose (weekend houses of the affluent of Ahmedabad?) and a district commercial centre in sector 8 is proposed close by to facilitate servicing these houses for the ultra rich of Ahmedabad. This is an attempt to take away a unique recreational facility by creating a mini township of resort homes served by a shopping centre for the affluent of Ahmedabad.

Remedy:The proposal of the residential use along the ravines of the river and the District centre in sector 8 which is unwarranted and unnecessary and should be canceled.

4.The large open spaces at the junction of all main roads of the city, left open in the original plan to facilitate improvement of junction geometric in future, for ornamental landscaping, road signage, guide maps etc. are proposed by the consultants to be filled up with roadside shops & hutments for the immigrants giving the city a slum like look.This is a deliberate attempt to deface the city and give it the look of a slum and denigrate the original planners of Gandhinagar

Remedy:The open spaces at the junctions of all city roads must be retained as in the original plan.

5.The consultants, did not review, as is the international practice, the original city plan in the context of the concept of a new capital, regional economic/industrial development or growth matrix of a new town, neither did they consult town planning experts or the Planners of the original master plan (I am the sole survivor of the original planning team)who is still alive and active, thus eliminating any possibility of informed and constructive criticism or protest.

The proposals of the consultants, raise serious doubts about their honesty, integrity, and professional competence and have resulted in flouting of all norm of elementary city planning principles.

Hence it is necessary that these proposals by GUDA be held in abeyance till an EXTERNAL, IMPARTIAL EXPERT COMMITTEE of town planners including the original Planners of Gandhinagar, is appointed by you sir, to examine the proposals and make its recommendations.

Prakash M Apte FITP FIAA
Ex. Senior Town Planner (1965-1971) Capital Project 21st February 2011

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