Central Vista Redevelopment: Beneficial for Future or Waste of Money

Central Vista Redevelopment is an ambitious project of the Government of India, led by the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. The project lies at the heart of Lutyens Delhi built by the Britishers in the 1930s. The BJP led NDA government at the Centre aims to redevelop a 3.2-km stretch called the Central Vista.

 

The Central Vista redevelopment project involves demolishing and rebuilding several government buildings, including iconic landmarks, and constructing a new Parliament at a total cost of Rs 20,000 crore.

 

Back Ground
In 2019, the central government announced the Central Vista redevelopment project to give a new identity to the ‘power corridor’ of India. The plan envisages the construction of a New Parliament building, Residences of the Prime Minister and Vice-President along with 10 building blocks that will accommodate all government ministries and departments. The opposition has opposed the project for various reasons and is continuously demanding the Government to discontinue the project as more pressing requirements are there than construction of the project. 

 

Cost & Timeline for Completion

  • The Central Vista Redevelopment Project is expected to be completed by 2024.
  • The new Parliament building complex is expected to be complete by 2022. 
  • The project is being executed by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • The estimated cost of Central Vista Redevelopment Project is Rs.20,000 crores
  • Out of this, around Rs. 1,000 crores will be used for the construction of new Parliament Building.

Central Vista Redevelopment

 

Who is Constructing the Project?

  • Tata Projects won the bid to construct the new Parliament building at a cost of Rs 861.90 crores after beating L&T’s bid for Rs 865 cores.
  • The designers of the project were finalised in October 2019 by the government.
  • Bimal Patel is the chief architect of the project. His Ahmedabad based architecture company HCP Design, Planning and Management was chosen to design the building.

The Need of New Parliament Building

  • The present Parliament building was built by the Britishers and is about 93 years old.
  • According to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the building poses structural safety concerns and is “highly stressed.” Over the period of time since it was built, the quality of amenities that it offers has “considerably” deteriorated.
  • The present Parliament building has limited seating capacity and with the rise in Population of India, more Members of Parliament from more constituencies to represent the people, will be required. Accordingly more seating capacity will be needed in coming years which needs larger building for Parliament.
  • Under the Central Vista Project, the residence of the Prime Minister will be shifted near the South Block which houses the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The vice-president's new house in the Central Vista Project will be closer to the North Block.
  • The “North” and “South” Blocks are located in north and south of the Rashtrapati Bhavan so they are named like wise. As per the redevelopment plan, North and South Blocks will be converted into museums. 

Central Vista Redevelopment

 

Pros: Central Vista project
Bimal Patel the Chief Architect of the project said, “Central Vista will play an important role in defining new India.” Key highlights and benefits of Central Vista Redevelopment Project are:

  • India will have a modern and larger new Parliament Building Complex. It will be triangular in shape and will have an area of over 64,500 square meters.
  • Entire Central Vista will have a grand look with new Parliament building as the pivot of the Central Vista Project design
  • The Parliament building will be much bigger than the existing Parliament building and will have the capacity to house 1,224 Members of Parliament (MPs). The present capacity is limited to 790 MPs
  • The Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity of 888 MPs as against present capacity of 545 MPs
  • The Rajya Sabha chamber will accommodate 384 MPs as against present capacity of 245 MPs 
  • The increased capacity is provisioned for future increase in the number of MPs. 
  • All MPs will have separate offices in the new building
  • The new Parliament building will have a grand Constitution Hall showcasing India's democratic heritage and will also showcase the original copy of the Constitution of India
  • There will be a visitors’ gallery which will digitally display democratic heritage of India
  • The existing Parliament House building will continue to be in use by retrofitting it to provide more functional spaces for parliamentary events.
  • The new Parliament building will be equipped with the latest digital interfaces as a step towards creating 'paperless offices'.
  • The present parliament building, library, and annexe, along with the new Parliament building and chambers for members of parliament will form the legislative enclave.
  • The common central secretariat will include 10 office buildings and a central conference centre. All ministries of the government will be consolidated in one place. All offices will also be connected by a people mover to the Delhi Metro. The secretariat will be served by highly energy-efficient and sustainable infrastructure. This will improve efficiency and productivity
  • Executive enclave will house executive offices and facilities for the prime minister’s office, the cabinet secretariat, and the National Security Council. Consolidating them will result in reducing disruption caused to city traffic.
  • The overall objective of works planned on the Central Vista is to ensure environmental sustainability, restore the vista’s architectural character, protect its heritage buildings, expand and improve public space, and to extend its axis.
  • Consolidation of the central secretariat will allow all government functionaries to share facilities and reduce wasteful duplication of infrastructure. Buildings will use energy-saving technologies and materials.

Central Vista Redevelopment

 

Cons of Central Vista Project
The NDA government has been facing stiff opposition from several quarters for going ahead with the Central Vista Redevelopment Project. Almost all the political parties in opposition as well as environmentalists are criticizing the project and are demanding to scrap the same on following grounds:

  • Amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the allocation of Rs 20,000 crore to the project appears unjustified. Opposition leaders have urged the government to scrap the project and divert the funds to efforts dealing with the corona virus crisis. Leaders of 12 opposition parties wrote to PM Modi demanding free mass vaccination against the Coronavirus, as well as suspending the Central Vista project.
  • Conservationists are of the view that the project will meddle with the history of the current building, which was designed by Edwin Lutyens. According to them the 1927 building will be a lost heritage.
  • The environmentalists claim that the project poses a big threat to the environment. Many civil society groups and environmental organisations have appealed to the Centre to stop the “ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project”, at least till the pandemic is over.
  • Congress, has been attacking the government over the Central Vista project, calling it a “criminal wastage” of resources and had urged the government to divert money to battling the Covid pandemic.

However, despite all these criticisms, the project is moving ahead of time line. Two defence office complexes on Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue in the Capital, have been built at a cost of Rs 775 crore and with a combined office space of 9.6 lakh sqft. The office complexes were inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi on September 17, 2021. Speaking about the Central Vista Project and completion of the office complexes, the Prime Minister said, “People who were attacking the Central Vista project very cleverly and shrewdly wouldn’t say that this too is part of the Central Vista Project, that a facility for more than 7,000 officers of the military was coming up, because they knew that once this becomes public, their plan to spread myths and lies would be exposed” and added further,  “These modern offices will help those involved in the work of national security work more effectively.”

 

The Prime Minister also launched a new website for the Central Vista project. The website, Centralvista.gov.in, has details of the projects that are part of the redevelopment, besides a dashboard for “jobs generated”, active and upcoming projects and a section about “myths and realities”. It also has information about the new Parliament building under construction, the Central Vista Avenue, the Common Central Secretariat, the National Museum, National Archives and the IGNCA.

 

In June 2021, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere with a Delhi High Court order that dismissed a petition seeking a stay on the Central Vista Project construction in the midst of the pandemic. Holding the Central Vista Project to be of “national importance”, the High Court had called the plea “motivated”.

 

Highlighting the Central Vista Project as a symbol of Modern India Capital, the Prime Minister Mr Modi said, “A capital is not just a city, but is a symbol of the country’s ideas, promises, capability and culture. India is the mother of democracy, which is why India’s capital should be such that people should be at its centre. Today when we focus on ease of living and ease of doing business, the role of modern infrastructure has an equally important role”.

 

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