New Delhi: Central Vista Redo to Free up 75 Acres of Public Space

The initial contours of Central Vista redevelopment plan reveal 75 acres of land would be freed up in the heart of Delhi to be developed as aesthetic public space. The redevelopment could mean razing 10 government buildings, including Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, Vice-President’s House and Lok Nayak Bhawan.

The project to redevelop Lutyens Delhi will include construction of a common central secretariat complex, a new Parliament building and redevelopment of Central Vista with an underground metro line connecting all the complexes. Here’s a look at the rough draft of the plan:

The first draft indicates that rather than occupying more space, the new plan would free up about 75 acres of land for public use. A common central secretariat complex of 8-10 buildings would come up on either side of Rajpath with entries opening towards Rajpath side. The ministry of housing and urban affairs, the nodal ministry for the mega project, has clarified that no heritage building would be touched to make way for the project.

The government is holding stakeholder consultations to take everybody on board. The biggest hitch is razing old buildings. There is absolute clarity on razing buildings like Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, Vice-President’s House and Lok Nayak Bhawan. However, there is much debate on the relatively new Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan housing the ministry of external affairs. It was inaugurated in 2011. The ministry is still debating over National Museum, opposite Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan. The architects and conservationists have been pointing out that National Museum is a heritage building and should not be razed.

As per government’s estimates, it is paying ₹1,000 crore as rent annually for its offices spread across Delhi. This is the main logic for a common central secretariat. The complex is being planned with separate sevenfloor buildings. All buildings would have access to the underground metro with pedestrian subways. The first draft also indicates that the government would not have to bring any changes in Lutyens Bungalow Zone provisions or the Master Plan as the height of the new buildings would not be higher than India Gate.

The first draft of the plan envisages a triangular shaped Parliament building. Lok Sabha would have the capacity to seat 900 MPs. It is being planned as the House which would host a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament (which now take place in Central Hall). Each MP would have his own chambers with space for researchers and staff. Right opposite this would Prime Minister’s residence and office. Close to the entire complex would be Vice-President’s House.

The project is being likened to opening up palaces to the common people. “More public space would be created,” a senior official involved with the project said. While North and South Blocks would be made into museum, hutments behind South Block and next to Rashtrapati Bhawan would be removed to give way to a bio diversity park.

The government is moving with alacrity on the project. Though it had earlier planned to float tenders in May 2020, now it would start the tendering process next month. Simultaneously, it would begin the clearances process. It would need clearances from environment ministry, Delhi Urban Arts Commission, New Delhi Municipal Council, traffic police, Delhi Fire Service and other authorities.

No comments: