Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ ambitious redevelopment plan in the national capital called ‘Central Vista’, the blueprint for which includes setting up of a new PM Residence, PMO, Parliament building, bringing all central ministries closer, and redeveloping the existing heritage structures in and around the central vista, has many such proposals to alter the layout of Lutyens’ Delhi.
According to Bimal Patel, head of HCP Design and Planning, the firm that has bagged the contract for creating the blueprint, the project is in line with the original plan created by Lutyens. Consolidating, rationalising and synergising government functions through better office infrastructure is at the heart of this project, he said.
Apart from accommodating all ministries, bringing the PM and Vice-President’s residences within the central vista are key facets. As per the new redevelopment blueprint, the PM’s residence will move to the South-West corner, behind South Block on Raisina Hill. To cut down on travel time from PM’s residence to office, a new prime minister’s office (PMO) will come up at South-East corner, behind South Block. Similarly, the V-P’s residence will be behind North Block.
To accommodate and modernise the Parliament, instead of refurbishing the existing building (used since 1947) a new building will be developed inside Parliament complex. A triangular structure will be set up on a 13-acre plot, which is currently used for car parking. Besides a Lok Sabha hall three times the size of the current one, a Rajya Sabha hall and a lounge will also come up.
Unlike the current Parliament, however, the Lok Sabha in the new one could be used for joint sessions. With a regular seating capacity of 900, divided into 450 pairs of seating units, it has been designed to accommodate 1,350 people for joint sessions.
Designed in line with the Egyptian Parliament, the Lok Sabha hall will provide 50 per cent more space to each Member of Parliament (MP). The existing Lok Sabha hall can only accommodate 552 MPs.
“The current Parliament building is not equipped to have air conditioning, Internet Broadband and parking. The new structure will address these problems,” said Patel. Fit with acoustic design elements, the new building will have moulded spires and dissimilar window structures representing India’s diversity. At present, 22 of the 51 union ministries are located in and around the central vista. According to the blueprint, 10 modern buildings along both sides of the Rajpath spread will house all ministries.
Besides integrated underground parking lots, these building complexes will have underground transit passages directly linked to the Delhi Metro’s yellow and violet lines. To further cut down traffic congestion on the 3-km-long central vista spread between India Gate and Raisina Hill, pedestrian underpasses will replace traffic signals.
Patel says his plan has followed Lutyens’ “Ridge to River” model to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence in 2022. Starting from the ridge of Raisina Hill, the central Delhi plan will connect the area with Yamuna River, where a memorial will be set up to celebrate the 75th anniversary.
In addition, apart from a 48-acre biodiversity park housing all endangered and rare Indian spices behind the President’s estate, North and South Block will be thrown open to the public. These two buildings, once converted into museums on India’s history along with the biodiversity Park, will open up 75 acres of land for public to mark the 75th anniversary, he said.
A people mover is being considered to provide connectivity between the 10 office buildings which are set to come up around the Central Secretariat area. The people mover scheme which is being considered is similar to the ones which exist at the Dubai and Singapore airports. During a recent presentation of the redevelopment project, Bimal Patel stated that the new offices will be designed with the concept of the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).
As part of the TOD, effective public transport systems are being built around the high-density office spaces in order to minimise the utilization of private vehicles and also to promote public transport. In the plan laid out by Patel’s team, all of the 10 office buildings which are set to come up on Central Vista will be connected with the underground people mover which will operate in a loop, connecting all the offices with each other and also with the two Delhi Metro lines.
Presently, 22 out of the 51 offices are located inside the Central Vista and the idea which is being worked on, is in stage development. The concept of people mover will not be a transit metro system, but an underground shuttle. This will make it possible for people to reach their offices without coming out of the Delhi Metro corridor.
A senior official of the Urban Ministry was quoted saying that they will expand the area and enhance the facilities at the two Delhi Metro stations, in order to make the TOD plan successful. Currently, the Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan stations are very cramped. The Central Secretariat station of the Delhi Metro Yellow Line was opened in the year 2005, which has very little space on the station platforms. These aspects will have to be considered if the Delhi Metro line and the people mover combination has to work with each other. The Centre and the state government have an equal partnership in the Delhi Metro, and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is the government’s nodal agency under which the Delhi Metro falls.