Central Vista revamp: Project of ‘national importance’ for New India
The government decided to redevelop Central Vista to meet the growing requirement for office spaces, provide state-of-the-art infrastructure and streamline haphazard development
In September 2019, the government announced the plan to redevelop Central Vista spread over approximately 4 square km. Three years later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Thursday inaugurate redeveloped Central Vista Avenue, the first part of the ₹13,500-crore project. The Opposition parties criticised the project, especially the government’s decision to start the construction during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Centre maintained its necessity and called it a project of “national importance”. The project is aimed at creating modern office spaces for ministries and government departments, a new Parliament building, houses for the Vice President and Prime Minister, redeveloping the Avenue, and upgrading the infrastructure.
The reasoning behind the project
The government decided to redevelop the Central Vista area to meet the growing requirement for office spaces, provide state-of-the-art infrastructure and streamline haphazard development. In the document inviting bids for the appointment of a consultant for the project in 2019, the Central Public Works Department said a new Master Plan was to be drawn up for the entire Central Vista area that represents the values and aspirations of a new India – good governance, efficiency, transparency, accountability and equity rooted in the Indian culture and social milieu.
In October 2019, Ahmedabad-based HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt Ltd was awarded the work for preparing the plan for the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue, one of the most visited tourist spots in Delhi, which lacked basic facilities and parking.
The new Parliament building was proposed saying the existing 90-year-old one faces a shortage of office space, which means there are no chambers for Members of Parliament. With the likely increase in the number of seats, the situation was expected to aggravate.
The plan also includes construction of a common central secretariat to house all the ministries. Currently, the central secretariat is spread over 47 buildings. Ministries and government departments were paying ₹1,171 crore annually as rent because the government could not provide them office space, Union minister Kaushal Kishore informed the Lok Sabha.
Political opposition and legal tussle
Opposition parties opposed the project. They urged the government to shelve it and spend the money instead on advancing the fight against Covid-19 as the government decided to go ahead with it in the middle of the pandemic. Some civil society members challenged the project in the Delhi high court and Supreme Court. In January 2021, a three-judge Supreme Court bench approved all clearances for the project, including environmental and change of land use.
Projects tendered and status
New Parliament: The construction work was awarded to Tata Projects in 2020 and the work started in January 2021. The government plans to hold the winter session of Parliament this year in the new building. Seventy per cent of the construction work has been completed. It is expected to be ready by November 2022.
Common central secretariat: A set of 10 buildings will be constructed for this. The construction work of the first three buildings by Larsen and Toubro started in December last year will be completed by December 2023.
Vice President’s enclave: It is being constructed near North Block and Rashtrapati Bhavan on a 15-acre plot. The work, which started in January this year, is expected to be completed by January next year. At present, 24% of the work, which was awarded to Jharkhand-based Kamaladityya Construction, has been completed.
Executive enclave: It will house Prime Minister’s Office, India House, Cabinet Secretariat, and National Security Council Secretariat. The project has been tendered twice but is yet to be awarded. Bids for the project were first invited in November 2021. Ahluwalia Contracts India Limited emerged as the lowest bidders when the financial tender was opened in March this year. But as the scope of work increased, fresh bids were invited in May this year. In July, Hyderabad-based construction firm DEC Infrastructure and Projects (India) Private Limited’s bid emerged as the lowest for the project. But the work is yet to be awarded.