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Post at: Aug 04 2021

Central Vista Project

Recent Context
On June 29, 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed against the Delhi High Court judgement refusing to halt the Central Vista redevelopment project work in the Capital amid the COVID-19 pandemic and imposing Rs. 1 lakh fine on the petitioners.

Background

  • In December 1911, King George V made an announcement in Delhi Durbar (a grand assembly hosted to mark the coronation of King Goerge V) to shift the capital of India for Calcutta to Delhi.
  • Subsequently, a 20-year long project was spreadheaded by arthitects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker to build modern New Delhi.
  • The present Parliament House building was inspired by the design of the Madhya Pradesh’s Chausath Yogini temple also known as Ekattarso Mahadev temple and was designed by both Lutyens and Baker.
  • Rashtrapati Bhawan was designed by Edwin Lutyens.
  • The Central Secretariat that is North Block and South Block was designed by Baker.
  • New Delhi was unveiled in 1931.

Overview of the Central Vista Project

  • Central Vista Redevelopment Project was proposed by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2019.
  • The project include the construction of a triangular-shaped Parliament building next to the existing one, common Central Secretariat, revamping of the 3 kilometres stretch from the Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate (i.e. Rajpath).
  • Under this project, the North and South Blocks will be converted into museums and the Central Vista Avenue will be developed.
  • About 87 storied buildings will be built to accommodate the offices of various ministries.
  • The contract for construction was awarded to Tata Projects Ltd. in September 2020.
  • Nirman Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan and Vigyan Bhawan will be demolished under this project.
  • Bimal Patel’s HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd. has won consultancy bid for design.
  • The new Parliament building is expected to be completed in 2022 and a common secretariat by March 2024.

Need to revamp the design and structure

 

  • The government highlighted the old Parliament building and other buildings of secretariat have an inadequate infrastructure to meet the present demand.
  • Most of the buildings in the Central Vista have outlived their structural lives.
  • At present, the Central government offices are spread over different locations, affecting the interdepartmental coordination, unnecessary travelling and facing congestion and pollution.

Arguments for Central Vista Project

  • The government is of the opinion that the existing buildings are too old and are pre independence structures.
  • The existing structures cannot fulfill the present requirements of space if number of seats are to be raised in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The old buildings does not conform to safety norms.
  • The new Central Vista will reduce the cost of running the Union Government as it would not be required to pay rent for old buildings.
  • With the Central Vista project, people and officials will not be facing traffic and pollution.

Arguments against Central Vista Project

  • Opposition parties, environmentalists have questioned lack of studies to ascertain the need and impact of the project on environment, traffic and pollution.
  • Some sections have alleged lack of transparency and public consultation because several key proposals for the project have been pushed during the lockdown.
  • Sections critical with respect to the project also stated the project must be deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic as the country cannot afford it.

Way Forward
The Central Vista Project is going to become a symbol of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. It will undoubtedly improve the efficiency and convenience in the functioning of the Union Government. However, the government must allay the fears of the sections opposing the project and also address the environmental concerns raised. The current regime and the opposition have to build up the consensus so that the new Parliament building commemorates the 75th year of Indian Independence.

Abhay Pandey 


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