NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government’s ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project is under the spotlight once again as it is being opposed by the top political leaders of the country and environmentalists over climate concerns.
In the latest turn of events related to the megaproject, the Central Public Works Department has prohibited photography and video recording at the construction site near India Gate.
The CPWD has installed signboards at the redevelopment site of Central Vista Avenue, which read: ''No photography'', ''No video recording''.
What is the Central Vista Redevelopment Project?
It is an ambitious project of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre, which aims to redevelop a 3.2-km stretch called the Central Vista that lies at the heart of Lutyens Delhi built by the Britishers in the 1930s.
The 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.
In 2019, the central government announced the redevelopment project to give a new identity to the ‘power corridor’ of India. The plan envisages the construction of a new parliament, prime minister and vice-president’s residences along with 10 building blocks that will accommodate all government ministries and departments.
The project, which is estimated to be completed by 2024, is being executed by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
What is the estimated cost of the Central Vista Project?
Central Vista Redevelopment Project is estimated to cost Rs 20,000 crores. Out of this, around Rs. 1,000 crores will be used for the construction of a new Parliament Building.
Why do we need a new Parliament?
The current Parliament building, which was built by the Britishers, is nearly 93 years old and poses structural safety concerns, according to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said. It is “highly stressed” and the quality of amenities it offers has “considerably” deteriorated over the years, the ministry said.
Under the Central Vista Project, the residence of the prime minister is likely to be shifted near the South Block that houses the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The vice-president's new house will be closer to the North Block. The “North” and “South” Blocks are named so since they are located in north and south of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
According to the redevelopment plan, North and South Blocks will be converted into museums.
Who won the bid for the construction of the project?
In September, Tata Projects won the bid to construct the new Parliament for Rs 861.90 crores. It beat L&T’s bid of Rs 865 cores. The designers were finalised in October 2019 by the government. Ahmedabad-based architecture company HCP Design was chosen to design the building.
Key highlights of the Central Vista project
- The new Parliament Building Complex, which will be triangular in shape, will spread over 64,500 square metre
- The new Parliament building is described as the pivot of the Central Vista project design.
- It is to be much bigger than the existing Parliament building and will be able to house 1,224 Members of Parliament.
- The Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity of 888 MPs while the Rajya Sabha chamber will accommodate 384 MPs.
- The increased capacity of the chambers has been provisioned for keeping in mind future increases in the number of MPs.
- Currently, the Lok Sabha has 545 MPs and the Rajya Sabha 245.
- 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.
- The Constitution Hall will showcase the original copy of the Constitution
- Thee will be a visitors’ gallery digitally displaying India's democratic heritage.
- 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'.
- A monitoring committee having members from the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the CPWD, the NDMC and architect/designer of the project will monitor the construction work.
- The new Parliament building complex is expected to be complete by 2022.
- The Central Vista project has a work completion deadline of 2024, when the next Lok Sabha election will take place.
Why the Central Vista Project is being opposed?
The NDA government has been facing stiff opposition from several quarters for going ahead with the Central Vista Redevelopment Project amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic. The NDA government allocated Rs 20,000 crore to the project in March. At the time, the Covid-19 pandemic had begun to spread its tentacle in the country. The Opposition leaders urged the government to scrap the project and divert the funds to efforts dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
At the same time, conservationists said that the revamp will meddle with the history of the current building, which was designed by Edwin Lutyens. The 1927 building will be a lost heritage, they said.
The environmentalists claim that the Central Vista 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.
The statement was issued by 65 organisations on Wednesday, urging the central government to pause the Rs 13,450 crore project and divert all available resources towards the handling of the pandemic.
The statement stated that the Covid-19 outbreak has shown that human health and the environment are correlated.