Shelve Capitol Complex projects, UNESCO panel tells Chandigarh Administration : The Tribune India

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Shelve Capitol Complex projects, UNESCO panel tells Chandigarh Administration

Cites impact on overall universal value of heritage site

Shelve Capitol Complex projects, UNESCO panel tells Chandigarh Administration


Tribune News Service

Dushyant Singh Pundir

Chandigarh, September 17

In a major development, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has requested the UT Administration to suspend three major projects, including the holistic development plan for the Punjab and Haryana High Court within the Capitol Complex. The committee has raised serious objections, citing concerns about the impact of these projects on the Overall Universal Value (OUV) of the UNESCO-designated site.

Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex was accorded the prestigious status of a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. The projects under scrutiny encompass not only the ambitious holistic development plan for the Punjab and Haryana High Court but also a multilevel parking and AC chiller plants.

Heritage impact assessment of multilevel parking project

  • The proposed underground multilevel parking at the Capitol Complex adjacent to the HC will cause traffic congestion besides noise and air pollution
  • Will obstruct the original landscape composition and visual integrity of the property
  • It may lead to an increase in footfall in the core zone, causing overcrowding
  • The construction will require site clearance of about 8.5-acre area at the surface level, which would cause damage to the site, trees, artificial mounds and original landscape composition

In a draft decision conveyed to the Ministry of Culture, subsequently forwarded to the Chandigarh Administration, the World Heritage committee, comprising members from around the globe, has expressed its reservations. The committee stated that these projects, undertaken and commissioned by the Administration, had a detrimental impact on the site’s OUV. Consequently, they have called for these projects to be temporarily suspended.

A senior official from the UT Administration, privy to these developments, revealed, “The UNESCO World Heritage committee has communicated to the Ministry of Culture, specifying that these projects fail to meet the Heritage Impact assessment criteria and do not comply with the guidelines established by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).”

Guidelines not complied with

UNESCO panel says projects fail to meet heritage impact assessment criteria and do not comply with the guidelines of Council on Monuments and Sites. — Official

This move by UNESCO has raised concerns and questions about the future of these projects and their compatibility with the preservation of Chandigarh’s unique architectural and cultural heritage. As stakeholders deliberate on the committee’s recommendations, the fate of these projects remains uncertain.

According to the first heritage impact assessment of the project, the proposed underground multilevel parking at the Capitol Complex adjacent to the Punjab and Haryana High Court will cause traffic congestion besides noise and air pollution around the world heritage site. It will obstruct the original landscape composition and visual integrity of the property.

The project may lead to an increase in footfall in the core zone, causing overcrowding. The construction will require site clearance of about 8.5-acre area at the surface level, which would cause damage to the site, trees, artificial mounds and original landscape composition, according to the report.

Approximately 10,000 lawyers, 3,300 court employees, 3,000 advocates’ clerks, employees of advocate-general offices of the two states, security personnel, a large number of litigants and other employees visited the High Court daily. A large number of cars and two-wheelers also arrive at the High Court premises. The existing building/premises is unable to bear the load, the High Court was informed recently.

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