New Delhi: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is planning to demolish the city’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Stadium, the Ahmedabad Mirror has reported, quoting an unnamed senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The SVP stadium is not to be confused with Ahmedabad’s more popular Narendra Modi Stadium, which was formerly known as the Sardar Patel Stadium and colloquially as the Motera Stadium.
Designed in the 1960s by architect Charles Correa and engineer Mahendra Raj, the SVP stadium was built to host international cricket matches, but began to host domestic ones after what is today the Narendra Modi Stadium was built in 1982, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) said.
“The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium … represents the progressive ideals and experimental spirit that characterised India’s post-independence period,” the New York-based heritage organisation says on its website.
“We are going with the idea of demolition of the structure. Instead of spending crores on repairing, construction of a new one is a better idea which would last for another 50-60 years,” the Mirror quoted the AMC leader as saying.
It also reported that the AMC plans to replace the 63-year-old stadium with a new, state-of-the-art one as part of Ahmedabad’s anticipated bid for the 2036 Summer Olympics.
Since 1982, the stadium has also become a popular space for recreational use by Ahmedabad’s residents. But due to what the WMF calls “decades of poor maintenance and lack of funding”, the stadium has become worn down, and the Mirror says that it has even become “hazardous”.
“It is not even fit for organizing any cultural event,” it quoted an AMC official as saying.
In July 2020, the arts-focused grants provider Getty Foundation announced a grant to the stadium, following which the WMF launched a project along with the AMC to conserve it. “The stadium’s distinct, cantilevered framing takes its structural power from an elegantly zig-zagging exterior wall that provides added reinforcement. This solution was reached with the help of Mahendra Raj, a pioneering engineer who helped India’s top modern architects turn their design visions into reality… The site has been placed on the 2020 World Monuments Watch, a selection of at-risk cultural heritage sites that conjoin “great historical significance with contemporary social impact.”
That year, the Getty Foundation announced that Patel Stadium was one of 13 significant twentieth-century buildings in the world that would receive a total of $2.2 million in grants.
According to an interview with Mid-Day, WMF had handed the project over to the AMC by March 2023.
Around the same time, what was then the Sardar Patel Stadium was renovated and turned into becoming the world’s largest stadium – with a capacity to host 1.32 lakh spectators – and was renamed after the prime minister in 2021.
Apart from the SVP stadium, a second project in Ahmedabad has drawn criticism for its renovation ambitions – the Sabarmati Ashram, which served as Mahatma Gandhi’s home from 1917 to 1930.
Critics of the Union government’s Rs 1,200-crore plan to refurbish the ashram said that these plans aimed at commercialising a space that otherwise represents the simplicity of Gandhi and his thought.
This article was first published by TheWire