Conservation of Rashtrapati Bhavan on anvil


'Comprehensive master plan will also help take up projects in Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate'

The red and ochre sandstone, and the spacious rooms and halls of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Raisina Hill have withstood the vagaries of time for the past 81 years, but not without a fair bit of wear and tear.

To help the mansion retain its glory in years to come, a consultant will be hired to prepare a comprehensive conservation master plan that will strictly follow architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens's original plan. "We are looking into appointing a consultant to come up with a heritage conservation master plan for Rashtrapati Bhavan," Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the President, said.

Built in 1931, the four-storey Rashtrapati Bhavan has 340 rooms spread over a floor area of 200,000 square feet. Hardly any steel has gone into its construction, while 700 million bricks and three million cubic feet of stone were used.

"Rashtrapati Bhavan needs a comprehensive conservation plan. The consultant will have to come up with guidelines or parameters on the upkeep of Rashtrapati Bhavan. These parameters will also guide us in taking up new development projects in the sprawling Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate," a CPWD official said.

The CPWD looks after the Rashtrapati Bhavan development projects. There are plans to build a museum and a ceremonial hall once the master plan is in place.

"The museum will tell people about all the Presidents. A ceremonial hall will be built to receive foreign dignitaries. At present, this ceremony is done in the courtyard," the CPWD official said.

President Pranab Mukherjee recently laid the foundation of a residential complex in the Rashtrapati Bhavan Estate. Officials said 50 new "type-II" President's Secretariat staff quarters will replace the old houses which were built in 1927-32.

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