According to a September 2019 announcement by the Central government, the Central administrative region of India, Central Vista, spread over an area of more than four square kilometres, would be renovated. On Thursday, September 8, 2018, three years later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened Central Vista Avenue as part of the 13,500-crore construction project. Opposition parties were particularly critical of the government’s choice to commence building during the Covid-19 epidemic. Despite this, the Center referred to the initiative as “nationally significant” and defended its importance.
In addition to creating modern office spaces for government departments and ministries, the project involves constructing a new Parliament building and housing for the Vice President and Prime Minister. It also involves redeveloping the Avenue and upgrading the infrastructure.
The Central Vista Project
The Central Vista is located in the middle of the 1930s British-built Lutyens Delhi. The administration headed by Narendra Modi and the NDA wants to develop Central Vista. In addition to constructing a new Parliament, the project includes destroying and reconstructing several government buildings, including landmarks. The entire cost of the project is anticipated to be Rs 20,000 crore.
The redevelopment project was announced to give India’s ‘power corridor’ a rebranded identity. All government ministries and departments will be housed in 10 building blocks, including a new parliament building, prime minister’s residence, and vice president’s residence.
The project is being implemented by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and is projected to be finished by 2024. According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs of the Union, the British constructed the current Parliament building nearly 93 years ago. According to the government, it has gotten under more pressure over the years, and its facilities have deteriorated dramatically.
As part of the Central Vista Project, the prime minister’s residence could be relocated near the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which is located in the South Block. The North Block will be closer to the vice-president’s new house. As the blocks are located north and south of Rashtrapati Bhavan, they are known as the “North” and “South” blocks.
Museums are planned for the South and North Blocks as a part of the redevelopment plan.
Benefits of the Central Vista Project
Chief Architect Bimal Patel states that Central Vista will define a new India. The Parliament Building Complex of India will be modernized and enlarged. The triangular structure will cover over 64,500 square meters. As the pivot of the Central Vista Project design, the upcoming Parliament building will give the entire project a grand look. The new building will be much larger than the current Parliament building and will have space for 1,224 Members of Parliament (MPs). Central Vista is undergoing extensive repairs and improvements intending to restore the vista’s architectural character, protect its heritage buildings, expand the public space, and extend its axis. It will reduce wasteful duplication of infrastructure if the central secretariat is consolidated and all government functionaries will share facilities. The building materials and technologies used will be energy-efficient.
Several quarters have opposed the NDA government’s decision to proceed with the Central Vista Redevelopment Project. This project seemed unjustifiable, given the COVID-19 pandemic. The government was urged to scrap the project and divert the funds to Coronavirus recovery efforts. In a letter to PM Modi, 12 opposition leaders had called for free mass vaccination against Coronavirus and the suspension of the Central Vista project.
In the opinion of conservationists, the project will conflict with the heritage of the current building, designed by Edwin Lutyens. They argue that the 1927 building will be lost to history. Environmentalists believe the project poses a serious environmental threat.
Several civil society groups and environmental organizations had asked the Centre to halt the “ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project” until after the pandemic was over. In its attacks on the government over the Central Vista project, Congress has called it a “criminal waste” of resources and urged it to divert funds from it to combat the Covid pandemic.
However, the project continues to advance on schedule despite all criticisms. A combined office space of 9.6 lakh square feet on Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue has been built for a total of Rs 775 crore in the Capital. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, held a ceremony for opening the office buildings on September 17, 2021.
Besides launching the website for Central Vista, the Prime Minister also unveiled a video about the project. A section about “myths and realities” is included on the website, along with details about the projects planned as part of the redevelopment. Also featured is information about the National Museum, the National Archives, the IGNCA, and the new Parliament building under construction.
The Delhi High Court dismissed an appeal to stay the construction of the Central Vista Project in June 2021. Pandemic conditions prevailed at this time. Asserting the “national importance” of the Central Vista Project, the High Court called the plea “motivated”.
The Prime Minister highlighted the Central Vista Project as a symbol of Modern India Capital, saying that Capital represents a country’s ideas, promises, capabilities, and culture.