Steel ‘sprouts‘ near AIIMS in South Delhi set to be dismantled

A decade after they came up, dividing opinion in the national Capital on whether they were aesthetic or ugly, the iconic steel ‘sprouts’ at the All Indian Institute of Medical Science( AIIMS) intersection are set to be dismantled, officials familiar with the development said.

The now-famous South Delhi landmark, one of the country’s largest site-specific public art installations, will be replaced by a water fountain,the officials said. The 35-feet high stainless steel work — eight big stainless steel sprouts — was created in 2008 created by artist Vibhor Sogani near the Kidwai Nagar Redevelopment Project.

The fate of the 80 smaller sprouts installed opposite the Safdarjang Hospital has not been decided yet, but they are likely to dismantled too next month, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

The stainless steel work was mired in controversy when it was installed in 2008. The Delhi Government’s Public Works Department (PWD), which sanctioned the installation, said that its design represented the country’s growth and showcased Delhi as a ‘world city’. But not all urban planners, critics and Delhi residents agreed.

Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, in whose tenure the installation was put up, admitted there were calls to remove it. “Some people had raised objection over its aesthetics soon after its installation. But we didn’t remove the structure and ensured it won’t get hurt,” she said.

“Though clearance was obtained from the chief minister’s office and the Public Works Department (PWD), it was the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) which refused to give approval to the project as it was implemented in violation of DUAC Act. The decision came at the time when 95% of work was done,” said a former senior PWD official privy to the discussions.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) — a year after taking over the portion of road from INA to Gautam Nagar from the PWD on the directions of Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor — has now come up with a fresh plan for the green patch at the AIIMS intersection.

“As per the new plan, a large muti-layered fountain will be created with the installation of an artefact or some iconic figure at the top. The work will start at the site soon. We are expecting to complete it by August 15,” said Naresh Kumar, chairman, NDMC.

Sogani, the designer who conceived the project, was shocked to hear about the development and said that he had not been given any official intimation. “I am surprised. But I will surely get the information confirmed,” he said.

“Removing the installation from a portion of island will not just make the area look ugly, but also demotivate the public art and artists in city. There are anyway only a few places in city where such installations are placed for public view,” he said .