The mega plan will explore options that include constructing a new Parliament building close to the present one or modernising the existing building to meet future needs; constructing a common central secretariat to accommodate most departments and upgrading the central vista to make it a major tourist attraction.
The Central Public Works Department has invited bids from firms and consultants to prepare a new master plan for the entire central vista that “represents the values and aspirations of a New India — good governance, efficiency, transparency, accountability and equity, and is rooted in Indian culture and social milieu”.
The plan includes upgrading the public facilities, amenities, parking and green space. Officials said the existing Parliament building may not have enough space to accommodate more MPs when fresh delimitation of constituencies is done.
The government has set a 2024 deadline for completing all projects, which would perhaps be one of the most hectic construction exercises in the area in nearly a century. Iconic buildings including Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, North and South Blocks were built between 1911 and 1931 after architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker had planned the central vista.
Once the new secretariat becomes operational, the government can shift offices from South and North Blocks and may even consider turning these buildings into museums, sources said.
The housing and urban affairs ministry is responsible for maintenance and development of the central vista and its surrounding areas.
The selected firm will prepare a plan that will entail concept, detailed design and strategies development/redevelopment works, refurbishment works, demolition of existing buildings as well as related infrastructure and site development.
The CPWD document says that the “new iconic structures” built in the central vista “shall be a legacy for 150 to 200 years at the very least.
Sources said the firm will give options for new development only in the area that falls under the central vista zone, indicating the government’s focus on efficient use of the land parcels. The bid document for engaging a consultant also says many of the buildings in this area are over 40-50 years old and have either outlived, or are approaching, their structural lives. Moreover, certain plots in this area are in the form of hutments since Independence and are under-utilised. These hutments occupy an area of over 90 acres and house either defence establishments or government offices, the document said.
The consultant would suggest whether these can be razed and huge chunks of land freed for constructing a mega Central Secretariat. The present secretariat is spread over 47 buildings and nearly 70,000 employees work there. Though the government had first mooted a plan to build a massive new secretariat spread over nearly 10 acres in the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone in November 2014 (TOI had first reported it), it later nixed the idea. The plan has been revived and expanded.
An official said the plan is justified considering that the government was spending about Rs 1,000 crore annually as rent for government offices in private properties.