Since then, what was slow-motion entropy through neglect has turned into a much more urgent situation due to recent evidence of wide-scale pillage. With the knowledge of—and in some cases, it is asserted, the complicity of—local ministries, furniture, light fixtures, and architectural drawings have been auctioned off in the international antiquities market. The news the city's iconic Corbusier-designed manhole covers were fetching upward of US $20,000 at auction in Europe and the United States raised alarms in international modernist preservation and Indian heritage circles.
This effort still faces challenges due to the fractured and bureaucratic nature of the local governmental departments, who occupy the majority of the modernist treasures in Chandigarh. Very recent good news about the effort is that the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notices have been issued to the city's Director of the Department of Tourism, and Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation to protect the original architectural materials. Further, the Union Territory of Chandigarh has just instructed its divisions to catalogue materials designed by Pierre Jeannerete and other architects working in the city in the 1950s and 60s.
Contribute your voice to the petition to save Chandigarh here.
Chandigarh Secretariat photo by Flickr user duncid, licensed through Creative Commons.