New Delhi: Amid the coronavirus outbreak in India, which has brought the country to almost a standstill, one of the Narendra Modi government’s most ambitious projects — the Central Vista makeover — is steadily inching forward.
The government last week notified the land use change of over 86-acre area in Lutyens’ Delhi that currently houses some of India’s landmark buildings like the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block and South Block, among others, to expedite completion of the Rs 20,000-crore Central Vista redevelopment project.
The land use change has been notified even as a petition challenging the project is pending in the Supreme Court.
From ‘recreational’ area to ‘govt use’
In the Delhi Master Plan, 2021, the area stands earmarked for “recreational/ public and semi-public facilities”. This has been now changed to ‘government use’.
Among the areas whose land use has been changed to ‘government use’ is a 9.5-acre land opposite the Parliament House, which was earmarked for recreational use (district park). The new triangular-shaped Parliament House will come up here.
The land use of another 15-acre plot on the southern side of Rashtrapati Bhavan has also been changed from ‘government office/neighbourhood play area’ to ‘residential’. It will house the new residence of the prime minister of India.
“The land use change is part of the process. We are not doing anything illegal. We have invited objections and suggestions from the public before going ahead with the land use change,” said an official in the housing and urban affairs ministry.
The official added, “Many of the plots were earmarked for public and semi-public facilities. Without changing the land use, we could not have gone ahead with the project.”
New Parliament building and PM residence part of plan
The Central Vista revamp plan, aimed at giving Delhi’s power corridor a complete makeover, is estimated to cost around Rs 20,000 crore. It will include construction of a new triangular-shaped Parliament, new PM residence, and 10 new building blocks to accommodate government offices, including Shastri Bhavan, Nirman Bhavan, Udyog Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan and Vayu Bhavan, among others.
These buildings currently house the offices of different central ministries such as education, health, housing, agriculture, commerce, air force, among others.
Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri had earlier said there was need to have all government offices at one place. Even a small ministry like the external affairs, at present, has four or five different offices spread across the city.
“The government spends Rs 1,000 crore on giving rent every year,” Puri had said at ThePrint’s Off The Cuff in February this year.
The housing ministry has already started the basic groundwork for the project. “We have started the process to shift the hutments and barracks belonging to the defence ministry that presently occupies over 50-acre area in and around Central Vista. Tenders have been invited for the work,” the official quoted earlier said.