Le Corbusier’s famous Capitol Complex in Chandigarh is about to be ruined by the construction of 19 towers, each between 12 and 36 storeys tall, on land located just to its north. This project, called ‘TATA Camelot’, is being developed by TATA Housing, the real estate wing of TATA Sons, one of the largest industrial houses of India. This petition to stop TATA Camelot is directed at Ratan Tata, Chairman (Emeritus) of TATA Sons, who is an architect (Cornell ’62), and Pritzker Prize jurist.
1. The transparent relationship between the Capitol buildings and the agro-pastoral landscape and the Himalayas to its north, is an integral part of the design of the Capitol Complex. Le Corbusier documented this extensively, and carefully controlled all development in this area to ensure that it did not interfere with this relationship. He even moved the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to prevent the building of a military cantonment within the sightlines of the Capitol. (See Documentation below.)
2. Due to political exigencies (i.e. the redrawing of state boundaries in 1966), a portion of the land just to the North of the Capitol is no longer under the jurisdiction of Chandigarh Administration, but under that of the state of Punjab. The TATA Camelot project exploits this loophole to cash in on the exorbitant real-estate values of Chandigarh by proposing the construction of this high-rise residential tower complex. More than a hundred members of the Punjab legislature are shareholders in the project, raising questions of due process. (Click for Newsmedia Report.)
3. The towers are guaranteed to destroy the integrity of the design vision of the Capitol Complex. They will be an eyesore both from the Capitol Complex and from the Lake. The small sliver of land just to the north of the Capitol Complex deserves to be protected as a common heritage of the tricity region. There is ample developable land around Chandigarh on all other sides.(See Documentation below.)
3. While TATA Housing claims that its towers are “green”, a development of the size of Tata Camelot will severely disrupt the sensitive hydrology, natural habitats and rural ecologies of the area around it. It proposed on land that is at the very first flats at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is immediately adjacent to a national reserved forest. It is sited on former riverbed, created by diverting an intermittent river. Sukhna Lake, the pre-eminent public space of the city and a renowned wild-life sanctuary, is located just to its east. Three villages and extensive farmlands abut it. If this project is approved, it will set a precedent making it impossible to prevent other similar developments in this area. (See Documentation below.)
4. Chandigarh was a prominent part of Jawaharlal Nehru’s postcolonial vision for independent India. It was designed by Le Corbusier (along with a team of other European and Indian architects and planners) and is a signature destination of global modernism and the founding of the Indian nation. J.R.D. Tata, Mr. Ratan Tata’s predecessor, was an integral collaborator on this project, flying Le Corbusier on Air India regularly, and hosting him routinely in Bombay (now Mumbai). The democratic values of the Indian nation-state, and of modernism, enshrined in the Capitol Complex deserve to be protected.
5. Since two previous attempts to reach Mr. Tata and the senior management of TATA Sons have failed to resolve this issue, and while a legal argument is pending in the courts, this online petition is designed to appeal to Mr. Tata publicly.
IF you encounter an error message while signing the petition, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
1. Early sketch by Le Corbusier (4th May 1952) establishing the fundamental relationship between the mountains and Chandigarh, with the Capitol Complex at the head.
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