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Why the Modi government is in such a hurry for the new building of Parliament House

The Supreme Court is hearing a case against the project, which has reshaped Central Delhi

As we get information on the Central Vista project proposed by the Government of India, the list of questions is getting longer.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case against the project which has given a new look to Central Delhi. The point of contention is the same, is the plan to build several buildings between the Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate, including a new Parliament House, right or wrong?

The present Central Vista is a historic area, visited by people from far and wide, and the beauty as well as the corridors of power in India.

Well, the redesign of Central Vista will start from Parliament and the new building will cost around Rs 971 crore.

By the way, the demand for more seats in Parliament has been rising for more than 50 years and was debated during the tenure of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar in the previous UPA government.

However, the current project was rarely heard of before, so when the government announced it a few months after the results of the 2019 elections, it came as a bit of a surprise.

The demand for more seats in Parliament has been rising for more than 50 years

What’s in Central Vista?

In fact, Central Vista refers to the area on both sides of the highway, including the Princess Park area near the India Gate from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Central Vista also houses the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament, North Block, South Block and the Vice President’s residence.

The existing Central Vista also houses the National Museum, the huge National Archives Building, Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA), Udyog Bhawan, Bikaner House, Hyderabad House, Nirman Bhawan and Jawahar Bhawan. The total cost is said to be Rs 14,000 crore.

A year after the announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a new building. In which more than 1200 MPs and their allies will be able to sit together.

The Prime Minister said, “What could be more beautiful, more sacred than this that when India celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence, the direct inspiration for those celebrations should be the new building of our Parliament … Is trying to change itself. “

Central Vista includes Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament, North Block, South Block, Vice President’s House.

Questions are being raised

The date of completion of the proposed Parliament House is 2024 but with a big question whether the Supreme Court will allow its construction?

On the one hand, the government has assured the apex court to include everyone’s views and dates. On the other hand, the apex court has termed the government’s stance on the formation of Parliament as “aggressive”.

Petitioner and senior architect Narayan Murthy, who approached Central Vista in the Supreme Court, believes that “the way this project is going, it is ignoring our processes and institutions.”

“There is an FAR for you and me that shows how much we can build on a plot. If we build more than ten square meters, it is not allowed and the MCD team will come and demolish it,” he said. But if the government is making it one and a half times as high as it is allowed, one and a half times as much as it is allowed in the FAR, then what is the lesson for the country.

Opinions are divided on needs, costs, government approvals or the design of the proposed parliament building.

Questions must be raised as to whether this has happened before in independent India.

Mridula Mukherjee, a modern historian and former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, believes that “most projects in modern India are based on competition, whether national or international.”

According to him, “Whether it was IGNCA, or something else, people, artists or architects were all involved in the process of making them. Now I think whoever is the government or the bureaucracy is very much in control of it. “

He goes on to say, “Now that Parliament is a building, the views of those who have been or are still in Parliament are nowhere to be seen. At the moment, the government seems to be doing what it thinks is best for the people.” Let them know without discussing. “

The Supreme Court has termed the government’s stance on the formation of Parliament as “aggressive”

What the government says

At the same time, the government claims that the plan is in the national interest as Central Vista needs to be modernized, which will save hundreds of crores of rupees and make the new buildings stronger and more earthquake resistant.

The question is to build more buildings in this green and open area, the government says that it is going to bring more greenery. But the most antagonistic voices have been raised about nature.

According to Kanchi Kohli, an environmentalist at the Center for Policy Research in Delhi, “The proposed buildings have been excluded from the entire project by law. Is. “

He said, “The whole environmental clearance process was done in a one-on-one, plot-by-building, building-by-building manner. There is no need for an environmental assessment. “

For the time being, the ball is in the court of the Supreme Court, which has allowed the government to lay the foundation stone of a new parliament but is still prohibiting any demolition or new work.

British architects Edward Lattens and Herbert Baker

The foundation of the current Central Vista

History has shown that Delhi has been the capital of many emperors and governments. In which continuous construction work continued. This trend continued even before and after independence, which changed the face of the city and made it famous.

The foundation of the present Central Vista was laid when the British King George V announced in 1911 that the capital of the country would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

The town planning committee consisted of British architects Edward Lattens and Herbert Baker, who reversed the committee’s initial decision. The capital was to be built in the Shahjahanabad area of ​​Delhi.

Opinions differed between Latens and Baker, friends who designed Central Vista.

Raisina Hill, a hill chosen for a huge capital.

Mutual differences have existed before, but not between the government and ordinary citizens.

Lattens and Baker, friends of the Central Vista designers, differed on the height of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the North and South Blocks, and according to historians, this also strained their deep friendship.

This is not apparent in the current government but many civic groups and ordinary citizens have gone to court against the government’s claims of transparency.

But whether the British rule and the current Central Vista can be compared, Mukherjee says, “His consultation process was within the government and obviously he did not discuss it with Indian nationalists. Not at all because there was no question at that time. “

“In the first two decades of the 20th century, Indians did not have a stake in government and it increased after 1930. But now that is not the case, I think it was a good opportunity and there was a need to change it,” he said. It should have happened. “

“Secondly, I do not understand why there is something wrong with the process if it is opposed by experts, architects, citizens or some political groups, why can’t it be heard?”

The controversy did not occur at the National War Memorial

The decision-making British rule in the area ended in 1947.

The decision to rebuild these buildings, known as India’s identity, is now being taken by the country’s democratic government.

Petitioner and senior architect Narayan Murthy, who is going against Central Vista in the Supreme Court, thinks, “Initially, the planners in the master plan thought that the space between this city and this nation should belong to the people. “

He further said, “The master plan of Lattens was what is going to be built today – there were ten big buildings, for offices. The square is where the Shastri Bhawan or Nirman Bhawan is today, except for the roundabout around the India Gate in which all the land was given to the public. “

Global design tenders were available throughout the year featuring architects from home and abroad with their models.

However, the National War Memorial in Delhi is a case in point.

The demand for its construction has been going on since 1960 but the decision to build it was taken in 2014 by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. Global design tenders were available throughout the year in which architects from home and abroad participated with their models.

It did take a while to get ready but the controversy remained unresolved compared to the current Central Vista plan.

According to environmentalist Kanchi Kohli, “The area of ​​Central Vista is the heritage of the whole country, not just Delhi. So why not make a mass amendment when we are deciding on the country’s heritage? Why not include the public?” “

He further asks, “First tell me what the plan is, ask the public’s opinion on it, then creative ideas will come out and people will feel that this place has been created with us in mind.”

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