If you are troubled by traffic restrictions around 7, Lok Kalyan Marg — the Prime Minister’s residence — when the PM moves out for his daily visit to South Block, you may get some respite soon. Vacating the decades-old official residence that has been the home of nine prime ministers, the PM may move to a new home by 2024.
Used since 1984 when late Rajiv Gandhi became the PM, the current residence was built over 12 acres of land, based on designs by New Delhi’s chief architect Edwin Lutyens. However, with a new redevelopment blueprint on the table, the PM’s residence is now expected to move to the South-West corner, behind South Block on Raisina Hill.
To cut down on travel time — from residence to office that are 2.8 km apart — a new prime minister’s office (PMO) will come up at South-East corner, behind South Block.
The blueprint for redevelopment of the central vista, the ambitious plan that includes setting up of a new Parliament building, bringing all central ministries closer, and redeveloping the existing heritage structures in and around the central vista — has many such proposals to alter the layout of Lutyens’ Delhi.
According to Bimal Patel, head of HCP Design and Planning — the firm that has bagged the contract for creating the blueprint — the project is in line with the original plan created by Lutyens. Consolidating, rationalising and synergising government functions through better office infrastructure is at the heart of this project, he said.
Apart from accommodating all ministries, bringing the PM and Vice-President’s residences within the central vista are key facets. Similarly, the V-P’s residence will be behind North Block.
To accommodate and modernise the Parliament, instead of refurbishing the existing building (used since 1947) a new building will be developed inside Parliament complex. A triangular structure will be set up on a 13-acre plot, which is currently used for car parking. Besides a Lok Sabha hall three times the size of the current one, a Rajya Sabha hall and a lounge will also come up.
Unlike the current Parliament, however, the Lok Sabha in the new one could be used for joint sessions. With a regular seating capacity of 900, divided into 450 pairs of seating units, it has been designed to accommodate 1,350 people for joint sessions.
Designed in line with the Egyptian Parliament, the Lok Sabha hall will provide 50 per cent more space to each Member of Parliament (MP). The existing Lok Sabha hall can only accommodate 552 MPs.
“The current Parliament building is not equipped to have air conditioning, Internet Broadband and parking. The new structure will address these problems,” said Patel. Fit with acoustic design elements, the new building will have moulded spires and dissimilar window structures representing India’s diversity.
At present, 22 of the 51 union ministries are located in and around the central vista. According to the blueprint, 10 modern buildings along both sides of the Rajpath spread will house all ministries.
Besides integrated underground parking lots, these building complexes will have underground transit passages directly linked to the Delhi Metro’s yellow and violet lines.
To further cut down traffic congestion on the 3-km-long central vista — spread between India Gate and Raisina Hill — pedestrian underpasses will replace traffic signals.
Patel says his plan has followed Lutyens’ “Ridge to River” model to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence in 2022. Starting from the ridge of Raisina Hill — the central Delhi plan will connect the area with Yamuna River, where a memorial will be set up to celebrate the 75th anniversary.
In addition, apart from a 48-acre biodiversity park housing all endangered and rare Indian spices behind the President’s estate, North and South Block will be thrown open to the public. These two buildings, once converted into museums on India’s history along with the biodiversity Park, will open up 75 acres of land for public to mark the 75th anniversary, he said.