Paris overlooks delays, wants Delhi help in urban project

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New Delhi, July 13: The capital's Connaught Place is an iconic place and its renovation has been a much delayed project in New Delhi. However, this does not seem to have affected the French interest.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which is incharge of the project has been been invited to Paris to help redevelop one of French capital's city's biggest squares, the Place de la Republique along the lines of Connaught Place.

The French Ambassador to India has written to the NDMC chairperson Archana Arora inviting her and a delegation to Paris. The topic of invitation includes talks on techniques that both countries could use to protect the heritage and architecture.

"The Mayor of Paris is looking for urban re-generation of one of its biggest squares, the Place de la Republique, a project similar to the revamp of the historical Connaught Place," an official of the engineering department told the Indian Express.

"The visit is entirely to discuss and share technology that both countries are using in redeveloping places of historical relevance. Both India and France have been sharing technologies and designs in the field of urban architecture and development for some time now. This visit will be important for the NDMC," the official told the Express Newsline.

Conceived in 2004, the Connaught Place renovation project was to be completed before October 2010. The last deadline was June 30 and it was over two weeks ago. The project cost, meanwhile, has escalated nine-fold from Rs 76 crore to Rs 671 crore.

Paris has recently revamped parts of Place de la Republique and opened it for public. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë opened the square to public last month. The revamp plan is pegged at £20.4m. Around 70 percent of the 3.4 hectares of the square and its surroundings roads are now a pedestrian zone.

The centrepiece of Place de la République is the 9.5 metre bronze statue of Marianne, the female symbol of the republic holding aloft an olive branch in her right hand and resting her left on a tablet engraved with Droits de l'homme.

The statue, created by brothers Léopold and Charles Morice and installed in 1883, had been given a facelift, scrubbed clean of the graffiti tags and footprints left by protestors who have taken to climbing on it to hang their banners during demonstrations.

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