The Central Vista redevelopment project will showcase the evolving face of India and the hopes and aspirations of 1.35 billion citizens through a modern development.
The development of India’s new Parliament Building - Central Vista Avenue - has gathered pace with all targets on schedule. It starts from North and South Block to India Gate. It includes the Rajpath, its adjoining lawns and canals, Vijay Chowk and the India Gate plaza that is a 3 kilometres long stretch. This was originally designed to be a grand processional pathway to the Viceroy's House during the British Raj. It was appropriated by the people of India and their government at Independence.
The Government has approved a proposal for the development of Central Vista Avenue. Requisite permissions from Delhi Urban Arts Commission, Heritage Conservation Committee, Central Vista Committee, Local Body etc. have been obtained. The cost of the Central Vista Redevelopment project, which also includes a Common Central Secretariat and the Special Protection Group (SPG) building, has been estimated to be around $1.8 billion.
With parliamentary activities and the number of people working therein and visitors increasing manifold signs of over-utilisation and distress are now visible in the existing structures. It is not able to cope with the current requirements in terms of space, amenities and technology.
Old is gold, but gives way to the new
Underlining the necessity of the Central Vista project in the national capital, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla asserted that the current Parliament building had no scope of redevelopment.
"The current Parliament building is historic. Many decisions have been taken there. However, there was no scope of redevelopment of the present premise, hence, there was a requirement of a new building. Hence, the houses requested and the government acted upon it," Birla said. On August 5, the demand for a new Parliament building was put forth keeping in view the possibility of an increase in the member of the Houses and a requirement for new technology.
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A site inspection by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri certified that the new seat of government is on track to reflect the hopes and aspirations of 1.35 billion Indian citizens and equally those who live abroad would project the new evolving face of India. Prime minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for this expansive and ambitious project on 20 December 2020.
"When we are focusing on ease of living and ease of doing business, modern infrastructure plays an equally important role. This is the idea behind the work that is being done in the development of the Central Vista," Modi said.
Ready for 2022 Winter Session
The project, which covers an area of 64,500 square metres, is expected to be completed by December 2022, in time for the winter session of Parliament. The inspection of the site was carried by the prime minister himself a few weeks ago and he spent almost an hour at the site to do a first-hand inspection of the progress achieved so far.
Summing the development, Puri tweeted, "Work is on schedule. Quick progress being made. The new look Central Vista Avenue, with a judicious mix of modern with traditional, will redefine the heart of the city. More public spaces. Easier public access. Greener and better.” He went on to add that, "Toil and perseverance of our workers is giving shape to architectural heritage for the future generations. I visited the Central Vista Avenue and New Parliament sites to take stock. Happy to inform the 'Vidvaans' that their ice cream evenings are going to get even better!"
The minister said work for the new building was being done "in a clockwork fashion with an entire government approach".
Puri said that the Republic Day parade in 2022 will be held at refurbished Rajpath, a project under the Central Vista redevelopment plan.
"Another component, which we have undertaken is the expansion, upgradation and modernization of the Central Vista Avenue. The January 26 parade in 2022, will be at the new venue of Central Vista Avenue," he said.
Court dismisses legal challenges to the project
The project went through its moments of attrition with challenges being lodged in court against it, but construction is being carried out since January 5, 2021, after the top court dismissed petitions challenging the project. Puri dismissed the arguments of those who opposed the construction of a new project at the expense of the old structure saying, "Whenever you undertake a project on such an ambitious scale as the Prime Minister decided there will be voices, which is perhaps because they do not know the full facts, (they) will say that this is a project which is designed to demolish our heritage or iconic buildings. I think that not a single of those cultural iconic heritage buildings will be demolished. We are proud of our culture," he said.
The project has generated a total of 426,957 employment generated in man days; 18,841 metric tonnes of steel used; 35.679 metric tonnes of cement used and 2,56 cubic metres of fly ash.
The existing building served as independent India’s first Parliament and witnessed the adoption of the Constitution of India. Thus, conserving and rejuvenating the rich heritage of the Parliament building is a matter of national importance.
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An icon of India’s democratic spirit, the Parliament building sits at the heart of the Central Vista. India’s present Parliament House is a colonial-era building designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, which took six years to construct (1921-1927).
Originally called the Council House, the building housed the Imperial Legislative Council. The Parliament building witnessed the addition of two floors in 1956 to address the demand for more space.
In 2006, the Parliament Museum was added to showcase the 2,500 years of rich democratic heritage of India. The building had to be modified to a large extent to suit the purpose of a modern Parliament.
Special emphasis has been taken to ensure that the heritage of the existing sites and structures has not been compromised during the construction of the new structure – namely the National Museum; National Archives of India and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). The National Museum, the National Archives, and IGNCA contain important pieces of rich history and civilization. These structures are currently in need of modern facilities for a variety of reasons, including increased demand for space, the necessity for contemporary infrastructure, and the preservation of historic and rare antiques and important records.