The Browser Review Daily Letter 146

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The New Delhi


The Times,  5th July 1913

LONDON —In accordance with the undertakings given to Parliament, the various reports of the Delhi Town Planning Committee, consisting of Captain George S. C. Swinton, chairman, Mr. John A. Brodie, and Mr Edwin Lutyens, have been issued in three Blue-books.

Principles Of The Scheme

The final report bears out the announcement in The Times a month ago that there is “the fullest determination to make the prospective capital a worthy Imperial city, suited to represent a great conception of policy which is adhered to without misgiving.”

That conception is set forth by the committee as follows:

“Delhi is to be an Imperial capital and is to absorb the traditions of all the ancient capitals. It is to be the seat of the Government of India. It has to convey the idea of a peaceful domination and dignified rule over the traditions and life of India by the British Raj.”

Going on to speak of physical conditions the report says that the city must be suited for a seven months’ residence in a climate which varies during that period from a maximum shade temperature of 105deg. to nearly freezing point. Health in a land with a bad malaria record and violent variations in climate, rain fall, and river flood levels has to be most specially safeguarded.

The local drawbacks of dust, glare, and barrenness have to be combated; and the provision of irrigation, without which no grass or trees can grow successfully in Delhi, must be arranged.

From the walls of the present city the site will extend in a southerly and south-westerly direction, and be bounded on the eastern side by the old high bank of the Jumna River and on the west by the continuation of the historic Ridge, south of the Sadr Bazar. The southern boundary will be at the tomb of Safdar Jang, and thence it goes due east to the river.

The only portion of the older cities lying within these boundaries is an area of about one and one-half square miles starting on the west near the Turkoman gate of Delhi and extending southwards from the Delhi gate to the edge of the old high river bank. The area is unoccupied by buildings at present, but much of it is rough and uneven with the scattered remains of the stones and foundations of old settlements.

The rest of the site consists of good land, most of which is in continual use for agricultural purposes, and expert opinion of the soil is that it is well suited for the purposes of gardens, parks, and arboriculture generally. The villages on the site have, as compared with those in other areas near Delhi, a good past history in the matter of health.

The committee regret that the Government of India do not see their way to sanction the demolition of what is by far the largest suburb in the area, Paharganj, containing no fewer than 15,000 inhabitants. It is to be dealt with by inclusion in a general scheme for the improvement of the present city.

The Governmental Centre

The central points of interest in the lay-out, which give the motif of the whole, says the report, are Government House, the Council Chamber, and the large blocks of secretariats, which are to be placed at Raisina Hill, near the centre of the new city. The Governmental centre will thus command views of the new city on every side and be viewed by all the inhabitants.

Behind the hill a raised platform, or forum, will be built, flanked by the large block of secretariat buildings and terminated at its western end by the mass of Government House and the Council Chamber, with its wide flight of steps, portico, and dome. The forum will be approached by inclined ways with easy gradients on both its north and south sides.

The axis of the main avenue will centre on the north-west gate of Indrapat (Ferozshah’s Delhi), nearly due east of Government House. Behind Government House to the west will be the gardens and parks, flanked by the general buildings belonging to the Vice-regal estate. Beyond these again, on the Ridge itself, will be a spacious amphitheatre, to be made out of the quarry from which much of the stone for roads and buildings may be cut. Above this and behind it will lie the reservoir and its tower.

Generally the lay-out has been designed within lines of deviation so as to give the greatest possible freedom, It provides for a city on a ten square mile basis, but the alignment of avenues and roads is equally suited to a restricted lay-out if thought desirable.

The plan shows that a lake can be obtained by river treatment. While the lay-out has been made independent of this water effect, the committee observe that its ultimate creation will enhance enormously the beauties and general amenities of the new capital; it should and would become an integral portion of the design they have submitted.

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