All That You Need to Know About the Central Vista Project
[The author, Kritant Batra is a second-year student of B.Com (H) at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, Delhi University]
The Central Vista redevelopment project has been hitting the newspaper headlines over the last year and a half, with varied range of concerns--environmental clearance, public exchequer, heritage conservation, et al. This article aims to provide a neutral standpoint to help the readers understand the Central Vista project and its history.
- The Central Vista area of New Delhi includes the Rashtrapati Bhawan (President House), Parliament House, North and South Blocks respectively, India Gate and other administrative cabinet buildings. These iconic buildings were constructed in the British era before the inaugural of the new capital in the year 1931.
- Central Vista Redevelopment Project refers to the ongoing redevelopment and reconstruction to revamp Central Vista Avenue, India's administrative area located near Raisina Hill, New Delhi. The area was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker during British colonial rule and was retained by GOI after independence.
- The project began with the opening ceremony and laying of the foundation stone of the New Parliament Building on 10 December 2020 and is scheduled with construction ending in 2024.
- The project as of 2020 aims to renovate 3 km area stretch between Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate further converting North and South Blocks to public museums and by creating a new common Central Secretariat for all ministries, a new Parliament building near the present one with much more seating capacity for future expansion, new residence and office for the Vice-President and the Prime Minister near the North Block and South Block and converting some of the older structures into museums.
- Cost of the Central Vista Redevelopment project, which also includes a Common Central Secretariat and the Special Protection Group (SPG) building, estimating Rs 13,450 crore which is to be distributed over four years.
- Contracts of only two projects worth 1,339 crores have been granted till now which includes the New Parliament Building and rejuvenation of Central Vista Avenue at an estimated cost of Rs 862 crores and Rs 477 crores respectively.
- On 5 January 2021, the Supreme Court gave a go-ahead to the Central Vista and pronounced 2-1 judgement followed by the High court of Delhi dismissing the plea regarding Suspension of Central Vista avenue construction activities.
- The court order also said that Central Vista Avenue is a vital and essential national project. The Central Vista Project envisages redeveloping Central Vista for the efficient functioning of the administration, strengthening cultural institutions and celebrate the 75th year of Indian Independence.
- The approval process was set by the Council of Architecture, which included no building being taller than India Gate. The project proposal had to seek conceptual approval from the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC). Financial decisions received clearance from the Central Vigilance Commission. Monetary allocation was provided by the Finance Ministry.
- Project assessment studies were done by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and The master plan was done by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
History of Central Vista
- The Central Vista was first structured by architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker when the capital of the British Raj was moved from Calcutta to Delhi in 1931.
- The Parliament building alone took six years to construct, from laying the foundation stone on 12 February 1921 to the inauguration by then Viceroy Lord Irwin on 18 January 1927.
- After Independence in 1947, it became the seat of the government of the new Republic of India. The Parliament arena was declared a heritage boundary in 1962.
Details of the Central Vista Project
Aim: The Central Vista Project envisages redeveloping Central Vista as a world-class public space, having modern facilities for the efficient functioning of the administration, strengthening cultural institutions and commemorating the 75th year of Indian Independence.
Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that the new Parliament building will be one such temple of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, reflecting the diversity of India.
Size: The new Parliament building will be 17,000 sq km more in size than the old Parliament building.
Earthquake resistant: The new Parliament building would be earthquake resistant.
Area: The building will span across 64,000 sq. km. area and will be built on plot number 118 of the Parliament House Estate.
Cost: The projected cost of the new Parliament building is Rs. 971 crores.
Time: The new Parliament building is expected to be completed by October 2022 and the common Central Secretariat by March 2024.
Height: No new building will surpass the height of the India Gate.
Complex for MPs: A new complex will be constructed for the Members of Parliament of both the houses of Parliament at Shram Shakti Bhawan.
Contract for construction: In September 2020, Tata Projects Ltd. won a contract worth Rs 861.90 crore for the construction of the new building on a bid of Rs 865 crore.
Parliament session in the new building: In the 75th year of independence (2022), Parliament’s winter session will be held in the new building. As many as 1,224 MP (384 seats for Rajya Sabha and 888 for the Lok Sabha) will be able to sit together in the new building.
Design: Ahmedabad-based firm - HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd. has won the consultancy bid to reconstruct Central Vista.
Archaeological Asset: The existing Parliament building will be kept and conserved as it is an archaeological asset of country 150 and will be modified for more functional spaces for parliament.
Indigenous Architecture: The new Parliament will have four floors-- basement, ground, first and second. It will blend the indigenous architecture and the height will be the same as the new building.
Why is there a need to revamp Central Vista?
- Inadequate infrastructure: The Government stated that the old Parliament buildings have the inadequate infrastructure to meet the demand of the situation.
- Structural lives: Most of the old buildings of Central Vista have lived more than their structural lives.
- Inter-departmental coordination: At present, the Central Government offices are spread over different locations in different areas, affecting the inter-departmental coordination, unnecessary travelling which leads to congestion and pollution and unnecessarily delays in work.
- The Central Vista Redevelopment Project was launched in 2019. Currently Govt. India pays 1000-2000 Crores Rent per year because of the poor condition of the administrative area.
- Safety standards are not being met.
- The space and amenities required are quite insufficient in Parliament House. Visitors in large no. come to Central Vista from India & abroad and there is a need to improve the beauty of Central Vista to make it a world-class tourist point.
Plan for Redevelopment
- New Parliament building: A new triangular-shaped administrative building to house the Parliament of India will be built beside the existing structure as the first building under the project. The new structure will be spread on an area of 20,866 meters and will have a built-up area of 694,270 sq. ft covering the four floors and will have a larger seating capacity than the current building as India aims to expand its parliament in 2026. The new parliament will consume significantly less power and energy.
- Central Vista Avenue: Under the redevelopment of the 3 km long stretch of Central Vista Avenue, bridges over canals, pedestrian underpasses, wide footpaths, new parking lots, more green areas with more trees, and benches are to be placed. Shapoorji Pallonji was awarded the contract for the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue in January 2021. They are required to complete the project within 300 days and maintain it for five years post-completion. The government also plans to do a republic day parade with the new changes.
- Common Central Secretariat: Ten doughnut-shaped buildings on four plots as Secretariat will be constructed on either side of Rajpath. The height of all the buildings will be less than 42 meters (height of India Gate) and they all will have 7 floors. Exteriors of all buildings will be similar to surrounding Lutyens buildings and they will be connected to each other and to the Delhi Metro network by electric people-movers in underground ways and govt. buses. The existing Secretariat houses 22 ministries with 41,000 employees while the rest are spread across the city of New Delhi. The new facility itself will house all the 51 ministries.
- Central Conference Center: Vigyan Bhavan will be demolished and a new Central Conference Center will be built besides National Archives.
- New office and residence for the VP and the PM: The residence of the Vice-President will be relocated at a plot in the North Block, while the residence and office of the Prime Minister will be moved to a plot in the South block. Bringing them both within Central Vista will cut down their travel time and decrease traffic restrictions. The Vice President's precinct will have an area of 15 acres with 32 five-story buildings with a maximum height of 15 meters. The Prime Minister's new office and residence will be built on a 15 acres plot with 10 buildings with four floors each with a maximum height of 12 meters with a building for keeping Special Protection Group.
- Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts: The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) will be relocated from its current home on Man Singh Road as a part of the government's redevelopment of Central Vista, and its role as a cultural space will be expanded. A 15-acre plot near Jamnagar House has been identified to relocate the present building. The new building will retain IGNCA's existing role as a Centre for research, publication, events and training while allowing more facilities to be added.
Supreme Court's Say on the Central Vista Project
- The direction given by the Supreme court was to set up the smog towers of adequate capacity in the new Parliament building and the usage of smog guns at the construction site throughout the construction phase.
- The Supreme Court of India expressed that no felling of trees shall take place at the Central Vista site in Central Delhi till the Court delivers its judgment.
- On 5th Jan 2021, A three-judge Supreme Court Bench of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna announced the 2-1 judgment. Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari formed the majority while Justice Sanjiv Khanna pronounced a separate judgment for the same.
- Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari stated that “We feel constrained to note that the petitioners called upon us to venture into the territories that are way beyond the contemplated powers of a constitutional court. We are compelled to wonder if we, in the absence of a legal mandate, can dictate the government to desist from spending money on one project and instead use it for something else." They further stated, "We are equally compelled to wonder if we can jump to put a full stop on the execution of policy matters in the first instance without a demonstration of irreparable loss or urgent necessity, or if we can guide the government on moral or ethical matters without any legal basis."
- Justice Sanjiv Khanna stated in a separate judgement that, "The Central Government could have notified the modified land-use changes, without following the procedure and without prior approval/permission from the Heritage Conservation Committee. Further, the local body is expressly interdicted from issuing building permits in respect of the listed heritage buildings. It was necessary for the respondents to inform and put in the public domain the redevelopment plan, layouts, etc. with justification and explanatory memorandum relating to the need and necessity, with studies and reports."
- "We are turning over a fortress to the people" India Today
- "India set to get a new Parliament. Here's all about it". The Economic Times
- "Central Vista a vital, essential national project: Delhi HC". The Times of India
- "Centre busts myths around central vista says claims mischievously exaggerated". Hindustan Times