No building in new central vista will be taller than India Gate
The proposed buildings under the plan to revamp New Delhi’s Central Vista, the seat of power in national capital Delhi, will not be taller than the 42-metre-high India Gate to maintain uniformity of structures, senior government officials said on Tuesday.
The plan involves restructuring the Central Vista in a move that will include a common secretariat, a new Parliament complex, and a redesigned Rajpath, while also razing a dozen government offices. The plan, which is being handled by the ministry of housing and urban affairs, involves having a new Parliament by India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022, and the entire project is slated to be finished by 2024.
A meeting was held on Monday in which the chosen architecture firm, Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning And Management Private Limited, presented a proposal for the layout. While HCP Design, which was picked from among four firms that bid for the project, earlier presented a vision document for the redevelopment, the government said changes were likely in the proposal.
“We have consulted with the presiding officers of the Lower House and the Upper House. We also called MPs from different parties, architecture experts and urban planners among others to review the proposal. One of the earlier proposals during the bidding stage proposed giant structures around Rajpath and our officers expressed concerns of potential fire hazards. The height of each of the proposed buildings is not going to be even one inch higher than the height of the India Gate. So it’s a beautifully structured profile,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity.
The plan, estimated to cost about ₹12,000 crore, includes razing buildings such as Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan and Krishi Bhawan that house important government ministries to build a common secretariat for roughly 70,000 central government employees who are located in 30 buildings.
“We will invite the tender for the buildings by February and it will go on for about a month because one deadline for the project is by 2022 [for the Parliament complex]. The process for getting necessary approvals is running parallel to this design consultation process. We will get the proposals from Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) before the construction begins,” he added.
The proposed common secretariat for central government employees will be a “ground plus seven stories” structure, the official added.
“The design is in the evolving stage right now. We will have another stakeholder consultation soon. These designs will be matured based on each interaction and the ideas coming in,” the official said.
In its presentation on Monday, HCP Design also proposed to evolve the structure of the new Parliament complex. “It was proposed to have a triangular structure. You can’t have two round complexes within the same area, it’s a beautiful symmetry that they have proposed,” the official said.
The Centre plans to increase the seating in the new structure to house about 1000 MPs in the Lower House and 500 in the Upper House, keeping in mind joint sessions.
“It is a figure the architect is working on as you need a Lok Sabha keeping in mind the next 200 years. The current complex will also need retrofitting while the outer facade will remain the same. The Lok Sabha should be big enough so that during a joint session of the Houses, MPs could sit in one chamber. Right now, they are made to go to the Central Hall. Every MP should have a room of his/her own and a researcher,” the official said.
Urban ministry secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said, “While these modalities were discussed in the presentation that was made, it is still a work in progress. It keeps changing with every discussion. Master plan has still not been frozen. We will keep holding more such consultation meetings. A big announcement will be made in a week or so.”
The proposal to shift the Prime Minister’s residence closer to South Block from Lok Kalyan Marg is also on track, with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA)’s draft notification to change the land use of a 15-acre plot from recreational to residential on Dara Shikoh Marg (formerly Dalhousie Road) near South Block, where the PM’s new residence has been proposed.
“The vice-president’s house and PM’s house are likely to be relocated. Rashtrapati Bhawan has got 345 acres of land; you can build an entire township there. We have proposed to build a 60-acre biodiversity park there, which will be open to public. There has not been proper utilisation of land, about 60 acres of hutment is lying there,” the official added.
KT Ravindran, urban designer and former chairman of the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC), said the plan to have buildings no higher than the India Gate was a normal practice in terms of urban planning. “It is normal practice to have structures at a uniform height so that they don’t dominate the skyline and the existing composition is not hampered. Even when the new Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) building was made, it was ensured that it is not taller than South Block. At present, only the dome of the Rashtrapati Bhawan is taller than the India Gate,” he said.