Centre plans redevelopment of 3-km stretch in Lutyens' zone of Delhi; experts raise concerns on retention of precinct's heritage character
The Parliament building, North Block and South Block in New Delhi were built by the British in the period from 1911 to 1931.
The Union government is mulling the redevelopment of a three-kilometre-long stretch in Lutyens' Delhi that stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate.
This precinct is home to the Parliament, and the power centres of North Block and South Block, which house several key ministries of the Union government.
On 2 September, the Centre had floated a request for proposal for the 'development or redevelopment of Parliament Building, Common Central Secretariat and Central Vista.'
The Union government is mulling the redevelopment of a three-kilometre-long stretch in Lutyens' Delhi that stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate. This precinct is home to the Parliament, and the power centres of North Block and South Block, which house several key ministries of the Union government.
What is the project about?
On 2 September, the Centre had floated a request for proposal for the "development or redevelopment of Parliament Building, Common Central Secretariat and Central Vista."
"The 2022 Republic Day parade will take place at the modernised Rajpath," PTI had quoted sources as saying.
The sources said the North and South Block, which may be turned into a museum, would be made earthquake-resistant structure as per the plan.
Last week, the government announced that the work of redeveloping the Parliament building and the surrounding area would be carried out by an Ahmedabad-based firm named HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd. According to an article in Mint, the firm had earlier designed the Sabarmani riverfront and the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters.
Earlier, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said a new Parliament building, having offices of ministers and MPs, may be constructed next to the over 90-year-old existing structure.
The minister had said the final decision would be taken only after designs are submitted by architecture firms.
The Parliament building, North Block and South Block were built by the British in the period from 1911 to 1931. Some other buildings to house ministries were built after independence. As per an article in The Hindu, while the structures built during the British era are not earthquake-proof, the buildings built after 1947 are also a cause for concern as they are prone to fires.
Concerns about heritage conservation
Apart from the seat of power, the Lutyens' zone in Delhi is also a piece of iconic heritage. Indeed, the capital had applied to UNESCO to be listed as a world heritage city in 2013, and the Lutyens' Bungalow Zone was cited as one of the reasons for the tag. This has led to concerns about whether the redevelopment will preserve this character of the precinct.
An article in Mint has quoted AGK Menon, an urban planner, as saying, "When there is a greenfield project, one can invite ideas. But when it is a heritage area, there can’t be a blind invitation for ideas. The parameters within which you will invite ideas has to be clear. So, of course, I am worried about (the) skyline."
The Telegraph notes that according to the bid documents for the redevelopment, the bidder is supposed to adhere to the “guidelines” of the LBZ and the Central Vista Committee (CVC). However, several developments have been carried out as per the discretionary power of the government. The article argues, "International protocols dictate that all interventions in a heritage area must be preceded by a State of Conservation or a Heritage Impact Assessment Report (HIA). Such Reports define the parameters within which development should take place. In the absence of a HIA, the bid condition that the consultant will follow the “guidelines” of LBZ or CVC rings hollow."
With inputs from PTI
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