widest fountain to open
The widest fountain of Delhi-NCR, located near the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) flyover, is likely to be made operational from May onwards, officials of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which is giving shape to the project, said.
The fountain, which has already missed two deadlines, will be located near the steel sprouts on the lawns near the AIIMS flyover. The fountain is coming up in one of the two lawns located on either side of the busy Aurobindo Marg near AIIMS flyover and East Kidwai Nagar.
According to NDMC officials, major construction work of the project has been completed, and only some finishing touches and landscaping work remained before the project is thrown open next month.
A senior NDMC official associated with the project said that the fountain will be cascading and has been built around the large steel sprouts. It has a circumference of 90-metres thus making it the city’s widest fountain installed at a public place.
“We have completed the construction work and are now testing the plumbing and lighting. Also, the work to improve the landscape with the use of ornamental and flowering plants and the grass is going on. These are all finishing touches and will be completed this month. We are planning to open the fountain from next month,” the NDMC official, said requesting anonymity.
The official said that a request for the inauguration of the fountain will be sent to higher NDMC authorities later this month. “They will then decide the date of the opening ceremony,” he added.
In one of the lawns facing the East Kidwai Nagar redevelopment project, a 35-foot-high steel artwork — comprising eight big stainless-steel sprouts — was installed in 2008. In the lawn opposite to it, 80 smaller sprouts were installed.
Officials said that after the redevelopment of Kidwai Nagar, the landscape of the area has changed. So the civic body has decided to develop the area with the help of fountains, flowers, and decorative lightings.
The project was planned in May 2018 and as per initial plans, the civic corporation was to dismantle the iconic steel sprouts near AIIMS to make space for the water fountain. A few months later, however, the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) rejected the proposal and directed the NDMC not to remove the steel sprouts. After that, the NDMC re-worked the design and decided to retain the sprouts.
Officials said that the project was supposed to be completed by May 2020 but was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadline was then extended to January 2021, which again couldn’t be met because of labour shortage.
“During the lockdown period, the work on the project had stopped completely. Work finally resumed in September last year, but then too progress remained very slow because of a shortage of labourers, many of whom had gone back to their hometowns. The project was fast-tracked towards the end of 2020 and is likely to be opened next month,” said a second NDMC official, associated with the project said.
Neeraj Gupta, president Delhi Art Society, however, believed that improving the decor of an important with the help of a fountain was a bad idea. He said that the AIIMS roundabout is among the most important locations of the city and such places should be developed aesthetically with artwork in such a way so that every visitor felt connected to the city.
“There are already a number of fountains in the city. Instead of constructing a large fountain here, authorities should have showcased Delhi’s history and its contribution to the country’s freedom struggle through modern art sculptures and other artworks. Artworks are like magnets, they draw the public and feel them connected to the area,” Gupta said.