Central Vista Project

GS 2 Indian Polity Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

GS 3 Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development.

Introduction 

             Central Vista Project, the PM of India laid the foundation stone of the new Parliament building
            Objections were raised against the project due to the land-use changes and environmental clearances issue to the project by authorities. The matter is being heard by the Supreme Court.

Current Scenario:

  • In its recent order, the Supreme Court barred the government from any further activities and reserved the judgment. 
    • SC stated no construction, demolition, or chopping of trees should take place at the Central Vista project. 
    • SC allowed the government to lay the foundation stone of the project and carry on paperwork.

Central Vista Project:

  • The present Parliament building was inaugurated in 1927
  • It was having three halls
    • the Chamber of Princes
    • State Council
    • Central Legislative Assembly
      • (known as Library Hall, Rajya Sabha, and Lok Sabha) 
      • respectively in the post-Independence era. 
  • Two floors were added in 1956 to accommodate the enhanced requirements.
  • Central Vista project includes 
    • the construction of triangular Parliament building
    • common Central Secretariat 
    • revamping of the 3-km-long vista or Rajpath — from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.

Features of New Parliamentary building:

  • 64,500 square meters with the capacity of housing 1,224 Members of Parliament. 
  • By 2024, there will be a chamber for every MP.
  • A grand Constitution Hall showcasing an original copy of the Constitution.
  • Deadline of 2024 
  • the new Parliament building complex is expected to be complete by 2022 .
    • to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence.
  • The building will be energy efficient and accessible to all.
  • The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Halls will 
    • have high-quality acoustics and audio-visual facilities
    • improved and comfortable seating arrangements
    • effective and inclusive emergency evacuation provisions
    • with high-level security for the members.
  • There will be Seamless access between the current and new Parliament buildings, the Chamber for Members, the Parliament Annexe, and Library buildings will form a legislative enclave.

Issues:

  • Notification for the project was issued in April cleared by the Environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee immediately when the country was suffering from COVID Pandemic
  • Critics called the project ill-timed 
    • with several loopholes in the approval process were pointed out.
  • Lack of transparency
    • planning for the project is ongoing since 2015
      • but behind the curtains. 
    • There is no information about the tender issued 
      • or either the process followed 
      • or the criteria for selection of companies building it. 
    • There was no exhibition of the proposed buildings was held
      • no data revealed
      • no models or drawings displayed.
  • Changes in heritage status
    • Central Vista has been accorded the highest Grade 1 heritage status by the Unified Building Bye-Laws of Delhi
      • Grade 1 classified buildings cannot be changed, and “no intervention can be made unless it is in the interest of strengthening and prolonging the life of the buildings”.
    • Heritage Conservation Committee made a distinction between pre-Independence and post-Independence buildings 
      • to redefine the status of ‘heritage’, allowing the demolition of post-independence constructions built by Indian architects and engineers in the 60s.
    • It effectively, allowed the demolition and replacement of buildings like 
      • Krishi Bhawan
      • Udyog Bhawan 
      • Rail Bhavan
      • in addition to the National Museum 
      • the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). 
  • Land Use Changes
    • In 2020 Delhi Development Authority made changes in the land use 
      • to facilitate the use of public open spaces such as a district park and children’s play area be changed for use as government offices.
    • Before notification, there was a 60/40 split between 
      • public/ semi-public (60 per cent
      • use including museums, galleries, centres of arts, national library, (the Delhi) high court, etc., and 
      • government use (40 percent).
    • After notification, it was changed to 
      • 95 percent for government use 
      • 5 Percent for public and semi-public use.  
  • Environment clearance:
    • On April 22, the new Parliament building was granted environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change without any Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).
  • Cases filed:
    • Rajeev Suri vs. the Union of India 
      • was filed in the Delhi High Court in March 2020 
        • against this land-use change 
        • another petition was filed regarding violations of the heritage status of Central Vista.
      • The petitions were transferred to the Supreme Court and are now in the apex court’s domain.

Requirement for New Parliament Complex: 

  • Firstly, the Current Parliament was not intended to house a bicameral legislature that the country has today. 
    • will be under more stress when the number of seats to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are raised.
  • Secondly, the present Parliament House signifies an imperial origin, whereas India is a successful citizen-led democracy. 
    • Thus, the present parliamentary building is not in accordance with the aspirations of independent Indian citizens 
    • the new building will stand out as an institution created by 130 crore citizens.
  • Thirdly, there are international examples of building new parliamentary structures after gaining independence.
    • The Capitol Building in the USA was constructed within 25 years of the country’s independence.
    • In Brazil, the National Congress Building was constructed, almost 70 years after Independence, in 1960. 
  • Fourthly, Present Parliamentary complex was built by the British on their own patterns and designs
    • New building’s design and interiors will capture Indian values and the rich diversity of our regional arts, crafts, textiles, architecture and culture.
  • Fifthly, World history proves that Public infrastructure projects playing a key role in reviving economies in distress
    • For ex; the Tokyo Tower in Japan, built after World War II 
      • provided employment to thousands of workers
      • instilled a greater sense of nationalism
      • contributed to the resurgence of the Japanese economy.
  • Sixthly, existing building 
    • do not conform to fire safety norms and are not earthquake proof
    • Water and sewer lines are also haphazard and this is damaging its heritage nature. 
    • 2001 Parliament attack is a fit example questioning the safety.

Way Forward 

            Central Vista Project should be presented as the project fulfilling the aspirations of people, not something imposed on the people. 

Conclusion            

 All the valid concerns should be taken into account and proper assessment should be carried out to ascertain that the project will not have any negative impact.

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