Pragati Maidan has served India well. For well over 30 years, it has showcased India’s prowess and potential to the world — in fields ranging from agriculture to space, and everything in between. It has played host to many events graced by esteemed dignitaries since its inception.
More new products have been launched at Pragati Maidan than anywhere else in India. Virtually every new vehicle model in India, over the last 20 years has been launched here. And the same is true of countless products from numerous sectors — appliances, equipment, furnishings, books, handicrafts, IT, telecom, etc. As a product launch platform, and enabler, Pragati Maidan has had no equal in India.
The 70 odd exhibitions held annually at Pragati Maidan attract the biggest and the best exhibitors from all over India and from the world. The biggest of them all — the India International Trade Fair (IITF) — has become a signature event in the calendar of the entire Indian industry, and attracts over 10,000 exhibitors and over 30,00,000 visitors. The value of transactions facilitated at the IITF, though not computed, forms a very sizeable portion of the annual turnover of many small and medium exhibitors. A significant portion of India’s export transactions have been initiated, enabled and concluded at Pragati Maidan. It is a vital part of India’s economic and trade infrastructure.
Over the years, to keep pace with the success of Pragati Maidan, and the consequent demand for more space, additional capacity has been built in an incremental manner, whenever feasible. While each addition increased capacity, it needs upgradation to match today’s visitor and exhibitor friendly approach, and in line with the demands of modern exhibition business. The increasing number of visitors has severely strained the infrastructure and facilities within Pragati Maidan, and in its immediate vicinity.
In 2002, therefore, ITPO decided to initiate an Optimum Development Programme (ODP) for Pragati Maidan, with the objective of significantly re-modelling it into a world class, and world scale complex. A signature complex that would express the technological, scientific, economic, and intellectual prowess of resurgent India. Countries take great care in building exhibition complexes — the Crystal Palace in London, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, were both built as part of exhibitions to showcase technological prowess.
The project is now undergoing the approval process within various agencies of the government, after which a “New Pragati Maidan” will be created — an Indian signature.
The plan calls for the creation of a single, divisible, and environment-controlled exhibition hall to replace the 18 scattered ones that currently exist. Covering an area of 23 acres, it will be the largest, single exhibition hall in the world, with landscape, and streets — even a lake inside it. Visitors will enter through a large, modern pre-function area which will have ticketing, access control, food and beverage areas, restrooms, meeting rooms, business centres, several service provider counters, information, and security facilities.
The new complex will also have a central computer control room that will control all the operations of Pragati Maidan, and this will be open to public viewing. Access control and accurate monitoring systems will make it easier to respond to emergency and unforeseen situations. A part of this structure will also hold the world record for the largest column-less space in the world. At 6,00,000 square feet, it will even surpass the Atlanta Dome and the Millennium Dome.
The plan also calls for the creation of India’s largest convention centre at Pragati Maidan with a capacity for hosting 10,000 delegates, more than the combined capacities of all of Delhi’s facilities. This will also be a signature structure for Delhi. Currently, India hosts less than 1% of conventions in the world, and many international conferences bypass India, and head for Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and even Colombo, due to lack of modern and adequate facilities. Delhi, being the convention capital of India, has long felt the need for such a complex.
The plan envisages the creation of longer-term exhibition spaces to be used by corporates as brand and product launch centres, on a product specific basis covering 10 categories. A detailed market research, conducted by the consultants, has underlined the need for this. Modern car parking capacity of over 9,000 cars will ensure that no vehicles will be parked outside the complex even during peak visitor periods. A modern Central Station, located in the heart of Pragati Maidan, will bring the visitor (travelling by any mode of transport) into the heart of the complex directly, resulting in a closure of most of the current gates, and removing the pedestrian traffic from outside the complex. Even during the busiest of periods, from the outside, Pragati Maidan will look orderly and calm.
Watch out for the “New Pragati Maidan” in 2010.
—The article is courtesy India Trade Promotion Organisation