Visitors deface Coronation Park as DDA misses another deadline

 The Delhi Development Authority has missed another deadline for its ambitious redevelopment plan of the Coronation Park here even as acts of vandalism and defacement are taking the shine off the historic site.

New Delhi: The Delhi Development Authority has missed another deadline for its ambitious redevelopment plan of the Coronation Park here even as acts of vandalism and defacement are taking the shine off the historic site.

Sights of giant graffiti, scrawled up on the new stone slabs installed at the park, welcome visitors at the unfinished park, site of the birth of the city of New Delhi in 1911.

Even the Coronation Pillar, a tall obelisk commemorating the historic Delhi Durbar on December 12, 1911, has not been spared with graffiti defacing the monument.

Twenty-five-year-old Manish Kumar, who resides in nearby Dhirpur village said, "On its (New Delhi) birthday there should have been celebrations at the Coronation Park, instead one sees mindless graffiti on display here."

"I literally grew up playing in the park. I used to visit this place with my father and grandfather. Such fond memories. This place used to be filled with foreign tourists, taking notes or clicking photos of these once majestic statues, all but shorn of their glory now," Kumar said.

Coronation Park, the site where King George V and Queen Mary held their durbar in 1911, was supposed to be redeveloped by 2011, in time to coincide with the centenary of the new imperial capital, but DDA has missed successive deadlines.

"Work at the park is almost over... Lighting and other civil works have been completed. The greenery layout is left a bit, but it will take at least two more months to finish the entire job," a senior DDA official, associated with the project, said.

But Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which has been commissioned by the DDA for the project, said, "two months are not sufficient, as a lot of work is still left."

"The building housing the 'interpretation centre' has come up but still there is so much left to do. Only electrical and sanitary fittings do not suffice. The centre would need time to be set up. Bureaucratic red tape has delayed the work. It's sad that we missed the deadline this year as well," INTACH Convener, Delhi Chapter, A G K Menon told PTI.

As per the plans, the whole area has been redesigned keeping the Coronation Pillar as nodal point. A majestic statue of King George V, which once adorned the canopy opposite the India Gate stands amid four other statues (of Indian viceroys) placed at the four corners around the obelisk.

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