History of the Building
The first step for any institution to function is to procure a suitable building. In 1959, when the decision was taken to start the NDC, the same dilemma was faced by the Commandant. There was direction from the Government to start the College as early as possible. Mr Krishna Menon wanted NDC to function in a Defence shed in the Pragati Maidan. When the Commandant got the engineering appreciation done, it was revealed that to make it operative would be at a prohibitive cost (Rs. 13 Lakh, at that time). Therefore, the proposal was dropped. Another suggestion was to have the College in Hyderabad House which was promptly rejected by the Minister of External Affairs.
At that point of time, the present building which was the office of the High Commission of UK in India was being vacated as the High Commission had shifted to its own building in Chanakya Puri. Shri Krishna Menon intervened and with a lot of effort and negotiations got this building for NDC - and we have till date the College in this fine building.
As per the Cantt Gazette, this building was an evacuee property under occupation by UK High Commission and maintained by CPWD. In March 1960, the building was acquired by MES from CPWD (Ministry of Rehabilitation). The air conditioning equipment installed by UK High Commission was also purchased. Area of the compound, including building, is 7.30 acres i.e., 35350 sq. yards. The cost of building, at the time of take over, was estimated at Rs 10.65 lakhs.
The construction of New Delhi had started in late 1920s.The buildings on this road, which was then named as Albuquerque Road, started coming up by early 1930s. As per Mr Khushwant Singh (the famous historian and author) the first two which came up on this road were completed in 1935. One of them belonged to his father, where he also stayed, and the second one was the present NDC building. This mansion belonged to Khan Saheb Tej Muhammad Khan of Badarshi, Naushera in NWFP. He had built this mansion for his own comfort so that as and when he would be in Delhi he could stay here and entertain his business associates and friends. The house itself was handsomely built, designed to serve the purpose of a rich man as well as exhibited aristocratic taste. The Khan Saheb was an avid horse lover, he in fact was a race horse owner and a very wealthy landlord. He usually stayed in Naushera and came to Delhi during racing season.
The British Government acquired this building in 1939 and used it as a General Mess for the Army. In 1945, after the war, it was occupied by the Army and run by the Army Training School as a hostel for Army Officers and the wives. The continuance of requisition enabled the British Govt. to negotiate satisfactory arrangements, with the owner, for continuing with the British Government who, in 1946, were searching for suitable accommodation for the office and residence of British High Commission.
By September 1946, the British Government had decided to adopt this building to meet the requirement of the High Commission establishment. The house at that time contained over 20 rooms, including a bait room, a library and a room intended as a billiard room, two large rooms, plus hutments in the gardens.
The building thus became a part of the establishment of the British High Commission. The residence of the High Commissioner was located at 2 King George Avenue Road (Now Rajaji Marg) and it continues till date. The building- 6, Albuquerque Road as it was known-thus became an Office-cum-Residence i.e. Office on the ground and left hand side of first floor and residence for Deputy High Commissioner on the right hand side, what today are the IAG rooms. Later on, Burma Shell installed two petrol tanks and a pump in the premises in 1949-50. However, these tanks were removed when the building was handed over to NDC.
As mentioned above, the main building was approximately 35000 sq. ft., in two floors. The construction was very superior and is borne out, even today. The hutments were 14000 sq. ft. and servant quarters 8000 sq. ft., in area. The building was originally wired for DC supply. Later, the UK High Commission brought in AC supply by providing their own electric substation. Subsequently, the air-conditioning plant was also installed by the UK High Commission.
The approval to acquire this property was confirmed in a meeting in the Ministry of Defence on 25 September 1959. The first recce-cum-costing/ siting board assembled on 26 December 1959 to prepare a scheme for the proposed accommodation.
The building was proposed to be used as per site plan prepared. There were Western Hutments and Eastern Hutments and 44 quarters (outhouses). Electricity was to be supplied by 2x250 IOOA transformers 6600/ 400 Volt The AC unit consisted of 2x40 Ton condensing units and chilled/ hot water system.
By 14 March 1960, further approvals were taken for addition/alteration, furniture and other items. And by end March I960, the building was taken over and renovation started to make it ready for the inauguration on 27 April I960. The building, as we know after 42 years of initial take over, has undergone repairs and renovations regularly. In the intervening period, a few interesting mile-stones are recorded :-
The College was closed for about six months after the third Course in 1963-64. It required the intervention of Prime Minister to restart.
There was a proposal to change the name i.e. NDC was confused with National Development Council, but the Government decided that NDC should continue.
In March 1968, there was a lot of pressure to shift the premises, temporarily, to Patiala House since the building, at 6, Tees January Marg, was one of the houses considered for residence of Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi. This proposal was, later, dropped.
In 1972, there was a proposal to shift NDC outside Delhi. This was not agreed to by the Cabinet Committee.
The proposal to build the present dining hall after certain demolitions was put up in 1975 when it was envisaged that the number of Course Members would increase. The approval for dining hall renovation came in August 1978 at a cost of Rs 9.61 lakhs.
The proposal to expand the library to its present shape also started in 1975.The approval was accorded in 1980 and construction started. The library was completed in 1984. From a start of 500 books it has now more than 25000 volumes. The audio section to the College Library was added in 1986. Also in 1986, the practice of recording the lectures of the speakers and retaining it for a year commenced.
A proposal to construct an auditorium-cum-cinema hall was mooted in 1982-83. It was planned to build the auditorium on the present lawns. This was not agreed to by the MES as this would have increased the covered area to approx. 45% of the land, which is not allowed. Another idea was to construct the auditorium over the present dining hall. This was also not agreed to by the MES on technical grounds i.e., the walls could not take the additional load.
The rejection of proposal for auditorium catalysed the plan to renovate the present lecture hall in September 1984.Though it was envisaged that it would be renovated before the Silver Jubilee Anniversary, but thanks to the procedural delays, (the approval for renovation was received on 13 March 1985 and with modification on 28 June 1985), the renovation was completed in 1986 at a cost Rs 9.55 lakhs.