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Central Vista to change look of Rashtrapati Bhavan-India Gate stretch

The Indira Gandhi Art Centre will be shifted to a new building in Jamnagar House, and the National Museum will move to the North or South Block.

IANS | New Delhi |

There will be no loss of the North and South Blocks under the Modi government’s new Central Vista redevelopment project, the work of which is going on at a rapid pace. These will be protected as they are the heritage buildings representing government authority, and in the coming years, both will be retrofitted and turned into museums.

The construction of the Central Vista will change the entire view from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Officials associated with this mega project say that work is going on to build a world-class Central Vista keeping in mind the needs of the next 250 years. The urgency of this project can be gauged from the fact that the government has deemed it an essential services amid restrictions due to Covid-19 so that there is no impact on the ongoing construction.

The CPWD, the nodal agency under the Ministry of Urban Affairs, is responsible for the completion of this project. It has recently told the Expert Appraisal Committee that a new parliament building will be ready by November 2022. By December 2022, the new residence of the Vice President and Prime Minister will also be ready near the North Block and South Block, respectively. Apart from this, there is also a plan to create a Common Central Secretariat. The SPG building will also be ready by December 2022. Under the project, 46,700 people are estimated to get temporary employment as about a dozen buildings have to be constructed at a cost of Rs 13,450 crore.

A Central government official told IANS: “The government offices are spread in different parts of Delhi causing inconvenience in coordination. The staff have trouble moving from one office to another. This has its own impact on the work. Most of the existing buildings housing central offices have a life of 50 years, they are shabby, in dilapidated condition. These buildings are not even quake-proof. There are architectural flaws in the design, so frequent maintenance is required.

“Many central offices are running in rented buildings. With the completion of the Central Vista, almost all these central offices will shift to the Common Central Secretariat and come under one roof which will help ease work in functioning and coordination.”

IANS team visited the ground zero, where construction work is in full swing. The team found that digging is going on both sides of the Rajpath. The British era heritage lamps and chains have been extricated and kept in safe custody. An official associated with the project told IANS, “We are keeping them safe by removing the heritage lamps and the British chains while the work is in progress. We are also sending a note to the CPWD about it. No tree has been uprooted. There are about 1,400 trees, which the Forest Department counts every day.”

Why the need for Central Vista?

In response to a question in the Lok Sabha on February 11, 2021, Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri highlighted the rationale behind the project. He said that the Parliament House is now over a hundred years old. The number of seats in the Lok Sabha will increase after 2026. Therefore, a new parliament building has become a necessity and need of the hour. According to the Union Minister, the main avenue of Central Vista in New Delhi extends from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. However, with the changing times, it has to be world-class. It lacks several amenities and parking facility, too. Therefore, the Government has decided to construct a new Parliament House, Common Central Secretariat and Central Vista.

After the completion of the Central Vista project, the addresses of some of the iconic buildings such as National Museum and Indira Gandhi Art Centre located in Central Delhi will be changed. The Indira Gandhi Art Centre will be shifted to a new building in Jamnagar House, and the National Museum will move to the North or South Block.

The National Museum, which showcases artefacts associated with the history and cultural heritage of the last 5,000 years is currently located at Janpath. There are artefacts from the era of pre-historical period to the modern times. It operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, which also supervises the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, which has been functioning since 1985. In 1987, it was made an autonomous body. However, the heritage building of the National Archives will not be touched.