PM Modi to throw open new Central Vista Avenue today

Updated on Sep 08, 2022 05:11 AM IST

The ceremony will begin at 7pm, when the PM will unveil the statue and inaugurate the revamped Vista avenue. The entire stretch is lined with lush lawns, 16.5km of red granite walkways, refurbished canals, repaired and polished facades, public amenities, special vending zones and improved signages.

A statue of Subhash Chandra Bose getting installed in the Grand Canopy ahead of the inauguration of the Central Vista Lawns at India Gate in New Delhi, India. (Hindustan Times)
A statue of Subhash Chandra Bose getting installed in the Grand Canopy ahead of the inauguration of the Central Vista Lawns at India Gate in New Delhi, India. (Hindustan Times)
By, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday will inaugurate the newly christened Kartavya Path from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate and a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, throwing open to the public the first stage of a refurbished Central Vista in the national capital.

The ceremony will begin at 7pm, when PM Modi will unveil the statue and inaugurate the revamped Central Vista Avenue. The entire stretch is lined with lush lawns, 16.5km of red granite walkways, refurbished canals, repaired and polished facades, public amenities, special vending zones and improved signages. New pedestrian underpasses, improved parking spaces, new exhibition panels and upgraded night lighting are some other aspects of the mega facelift of the iconic stretch.

“It symbolises a shift from erstwhile Rajpath being an icon of power to Kartavya Path being an example of public ownership and empowerment… these steps are in line with Prime Minister’s second panch pran for New India in Amrit Kaal: remove any trace of colonial mindset,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, referring to Modi’s five pledges made during his Independence Day address to make India a developed country by 2047.

Drone shots released by the Centreshowed a majestic sweep of the refurbished Central Vista, gleaming water surfaces, improved amenities, and green spreads lined with red granite instead of the traditional bajri, or red gravel.

The government announced a four-day-long cultural function on the revamped stretch, which will be open to the public after 19 months. The inauguration ceremony will start at 7pm and arrangements for 1,500 guests have been made at India Gate. “There are four stages in the lawns between Mansingh Road and Rafi Marg where cultural events are planned for the public,” said a senior ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) official.

The government has planned a cultural function and a drone show on Bose that will start after the inauguration. According to a senior culture ministry official, the event will start at 8.45pm. The 28-foot-long statue of Bose, crafted by sculptor Arun Yogiraj, is carved from a monolithic granite stone, weighs 65 metric tonnes and was installed under the canopy at India Gate where once a statue of King George V stood, before it was shifted to the Coronation Park in Delhi in 1968.

“It is one the of the tallest, monolithic handmade sculptures in India... the unveiling of the statue of Netaji would be accompanied to the tune of Kadam Kadam Badhaye jaa, the traditional Indian National Army song,” said a culture ministry official, requesting anonymity.

The statue will replace a 28-foot-long holographic statue inaugurated by PM Modi on January 23, the birth anniversary of Bose. A 100-foot-long truck with 140 wheels was specially designed to bring the monolithic granite stone from Khammam in Telangana to Delhi. “The statue, made of granite, is a fitting tribute to the immense contribution of Netaji to our freedom struggle, and would be a symbol of the country’s indebtedness to him,” the PMO statement said.

The PM’s arrival at the canopy will be marked with traditional Manipuri Shankh Vadayam and Kerala’s traditional Panch Vadayam and Chanda. To demonstrate the spirit of Ek Bharat – Shrestra Bharat (one India, superior India) and Unity in Diversity, a cultural show by 500 dancers will follow. On the step Amphitheatre near India Gate, around 30 artists will perform tribal folk art forms such as Sambalpuri, Panthi, Kalbelia and Kargam with live music by Nashik Dhol Pathik Tasha and Drums. Mangalgaan that was originally penned by former Padma Bhushan laureate Shri Krishna Ratanjankar on the first Independence day 1947 by Pandit Suhas Vashi along with a team of singers and musicians.

The festival at Kartavya Path will start at 8.45pm and will continue on September 9, 10 and 11, from 7pm to 9pm. A special 10-minute drone show on Bose’s life will be projected at India Gate at 8pm on September 9, 10 and 11, said the culture ministry statement.

The stretch between Mansingh Road and Rafi Marg will be opened to the public after the inauguration. “Lawns at India Gate and between C-hexagon and Mansingh Road will open on Friday after all the arrangements made for the inauguration have been removed,” said a senior MoHUA ministry official.

The redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue, a part of the Central Vista redevelopment project, was taken because the area lacked basic facilities such as toilets, drinking water, street furniture and adequate parking, said the government. The facelift also includes a number of sustainability features such as solid waste management, stormwater management, recycling of used water, rainwater harvesting, water conservation and energy efficient lighting systems, among others.

The project was announced in 2019 but quickly ran into a controversy with opposition parties calling it a vanity project that would tinker with a heritage zone and hurt the environment. Several civil society members also opposed the project and went to court but their petitions were rejected by the Supreme Court in August last year.

Work on the stretch began in February 2021 but was delayed by the pandemic and legal proceedings challenging the project with an estimated cost of 13,500 crore . The redeveloped 3km-long stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate was to be completed in December last year, but construction was delayed. The Central Vista project includes the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue, the construction of a new Parliament building, the refurbishment of North and South Blocks, and the construction of new central government offices, including a common Central Secretariat, and central conference facilities, among others.

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