(Rishitha Jaladi, Journalist) Vijayawada: India’s economy has gone down to 24 percent in the last quarter and It is the greatest deterioration of any major economy. It’s challenging for the government of India to bring the declining GDP back on track. Amid all these tough trials the Central government led by Prime minister Narendra Modi brought forth an initiative named the “Central Vista Project”. Modi laid the foundation stone on 10th December 2020. The cost of this entire project is estimated to be 20,000 crores.
The project mainly focusses on rebuilding the central vista area which stretches 3 kilometres between the Rashtrapati Bhavan and The India gate. It includes the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime minister’s residence, Vice-President’s office, Central secretariat, Park, Nothern and southern blocks. The plan for this project is being developed and the New Parliament Building is one of its prime features. And Surprisingly the government planned to invest 971 crores in this new Parliament building.
The prime reason to rebuild this area is that most of the government buildings are scattered all over Delhi and its difficult for the officials, politicians and bureaucrats to attend meetings rushing between the buildings. So this project aims to bring all these government buildings together which gives the scope to function more efficiently.
Also, According to GOI, the poor quality of the buildings, very poor service integration and the inefficient use of land in the government area are the main reasons to propose this new project. Now the primary goal is to make this area productive and effective.
The new features on the central vista project include the secretariat in 4 plots, around 1000 small offices will be built in 2 plots and all the buildings are connected by an underground metro shuttle. The diamond-shaped plot in the centre of the project will be the PMO. The Central vista avenue(long lane) is both a civic garden and a stage for national rituals like Republic day. This project gives adequate parking, spacious footpaths and pedestrian underpasses to avoid traffic.
The Project is specifically triangular as triangles and trinity reflect sacred geometry. The idea of guiding was from the temples and places of worship which are usually guided. And the haphazard windows of these building will signify India’s diversity. The Project is about celebrating our nation and democracy.
But, The question that popped up after the announcement of the Central vista project in 2019 is “Why do we need New Parliament and Other Buildings when we already have the old ones?”
The British capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911. The imperial capital of Delhi was then designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. And that’s probably why the New Delhi area is known as the Lutyens zone.
The Old Parliament seem circular in appearance from the front view while from the top view it’s a Four-chambered building consisting of the Central Hall at the locus, Lok sabha, Rajya sabha and the library. the latter three are separated by 120 degrees each. The parliament central Hall at the locus is used for the joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and Rajya sabha. It is a historical marvel of architecture!
The supporters of this Central Vista Project state that The parliament building is 93 years old and is on the requirement for reconstruction and retrofitting. And the most appropriate argument to support the new Parliament building is the seating capacity. The current building can accommodate just 550 members. Though the Lok sabha has 543 MP’s, the Allocation of seats would be revised every 10 years based on the population changes and this number may increase.
Adding to this if delimitation exercise is carried out, it will be impossible to hold all the MP’s. But now, the revamp envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs. Moreover, there were no proofs to say that the existing parliament is earthquake-proof. Also, the microphones installed in the old building cannot be upgraded.
Currently, The government is paying 1000 cr as rent for its offices of different ministries and departments distributed out of the Lutyens Zone. The Construction of the Central Secretariat will bring all the government offices under one building. An 87 storey building will be constructed, which will help in improving the bureaucracy at the upper level. North Block, South Block and old parliament will be remodelled into a museum and will attract tourists and promote tourism.
While most of them opposing this project raised their voice stating that this project showed the Fascist mentality of the current regime. This will lead to the shrinking of 80 acres of common land available to common people. In fact, a petition was filed in the supreme court that this violates citizen’s right to life guaranteed under article 21 by depriving people of open and green spaces. Furthermore, It is hazardous to the environment as building a 2 KM underground Metro for Central officers to commute which will be hardly used but will mean the destruction of the biggest water table in that area.
Historians and architects have argued that no heritage studies and public consultations were conducted before the project was finalised. Accusations were also made that PM Modi has selected specific men for this project. For example, The architect of this project is Bimal Patel, the same one who built the Sabarmati riverfront and currently working on the Kashi Viswanath project. Many petitions were filed against this project. Finally, The Supreme Court gave a “NOD” to this project on 5th January 2021.
In conclusion, The Central vista Plan may be appropriate but not right now, In a financially stricken economy, where funds are desperately needed by the poor and the medical profession to fight against COVID. The GDP growth rate is at minus 10-20% and unemployment is soaring progressively. In this scenario should this be the priority of the government? With the same 20,000 crores, GOI can do a lot more!
Besides, Microphones and all the other technical stuff can be replaced with new and advancing technology. Moreover, the spiking pollution levels in Delhi will be triggered even more if this construction process starts. Additionally much older parliament buildings in the world are still functioning and are being used even today! For Instance, Italy’s parliament(1505), Spain(1814), The US Parliament dates back to 1793, the UK parliament came up in 1870 and India’s parliament was constructed in 1927 and is the newest of all. Hence, Its high time for the people of India to chose what is important and the need of the hour- Economy or the Central vista Project?