It is hard to recognise Pragati Maidan these days. The Defence and Haryana Pavilions have been razed, hammers are at work at Hall No. 1 and reports say bigger changes are afoot.

Widely known for hosting country’s signature event India International Trader Fair, Pragati Maidan is undergoing a historical makeover. The venue is set to get an Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC) spread over in 123 acres, complete with 500-room hotel, large food and beverages complex, pools, moving floors and helipad, besides exhibition halls.

The IECC, a flagship project of India Trade Promotion Organisation under the commerce ministry, is likely to open with G20 Summit in early 2019. It is expected to compete with world’s best exhibition complexes like Crystal Palace in London, Biosphere in Montreal and Eiffel Tower in Paris.

“The Rs 2,254cr project will have a state-of-the-art convention centre with seating capacity of 7,000 – five times the capacity of Vigyan Bahawan. After redevelopment, the exhibition space at Pragati Maidan will also get doubled to 1.19 lakh sqm as against the present 65,000 sqm. We hope to complete the first phase of construction by early 2019 when IECC may host the G20 summit,” said Rita Teaotia, secretary department of commerce, ministry of commerce and industry, recently on the side lines of curtain raiser event on Global Exhibition on Services.

ITPO officials say IECC will be a signature complex showcasing the technological, scientific, economic, and intellectual prowess of resurgent India.

The fate of Nehru Pavilion at Pragati Maidan will be decided by the Delhi High Court on February 23. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
According to commerce ministry, the project is envisaged to become a high-tech connection between the city, its people and the global community. The centre has been designed to ensure clarity of function and ease of circulation.

Once IECC is complete, the visitors will not have to park their cars outside as the plan includes a parking lot for 4,800 cars.

The 1.19 lakh sqm exhibition space is in

addition to the existing 40,000 sqm in the air conditioned halls which are not being demolished. A total of 27 halls and pavilions including 23 state pavilions, six ministry pavilions, eight halls (No. 1-6, 14 and 15) are to be razed.

However, air-conditioned exhibition halls (7A-H, 8,9, 10,11,12,12A &18) will not be demolished and the annual IITF for 2017 and 2018 will be held in these halls, the ITPO officials said.

“The demolition of the structures will take about six months as the matter related to three pavilions – Hall of Nations, Hall of Industries and Nehru Memorial Pavilion is pending in the court. We hope to get clearance on the same soon. We are also in the process of finalising a detailed project report,” an ITPO official said on condition of anonymity as only the CMD is authorised to speak to the media he said.

Whether ITPO will operate the convention centre on its own or bring in a private player to operate and manage it, is yet to be decided.

Hall of Nations at Hall No 6 in Pragati Maidan. This was the country’s first pillar-less building and it also faces demolition. 
The convention centre will have a seating capacity of 7,000 in single format (3,000 pax Plenary Hall and 4,000 pax Functional Hall) fully equipped with facilities for country-to-country level international conferences and conventions. The convention centre will be on elevated podium 8m above ground and will have a floating roof, giving it a grand look.

The space below the podium will be used for food and beverage outlets, service and storing facilities of furniture for Convention Centre. Other features include amphitheatre and other facilities to showcase India’s culture and heritage. The Crafts Museum and Science Museum will continue to function as it is.

However, India’s first pillar-less structure Hall of Nations, iconic Nehru Memorial Pavilion and Hall of Industries also face demolition. The fate of these buildings that hosted India’s first modern trade fair in 1972 is likely to be announced by Delhi High Court on February 23.

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