The Republic Day parade will be held next week on a new-look Central Vista with changes for the first time to an iconic British-built part of Delhi. The government is racing against time to get the ceremonial road Rajpath partially ready for the annual January 26 show of India's military might and culture.
British-style chairs, lights and new pathways connected with storm water drains are ready, officials say, adding that heavy rain in the past few days slowed down the work.
But with nine days to go, the road is still being levelled and workers are hard at work. Carpet dressing and cleaning were being done when NDTV visited the site.
A part of the pathway for the presidential salute is not ready. New toilet blocks and pathways will not be finished by January 26, officials say.
Union Minister Hardeep Puri visited the site for a review and posted images from a section of the city that has been blocked to public view for nine months.
Visited Central Vista Avenue to review progress of the project. Despite the unprecedented rains a few days ago & the current Omicron outbreak, work is progressing on schedule. pic.twitter.com/vFgtQQf0sB— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 17, 2022
"Visited Central Vista Avenue to review progress of the project. Despite the unprecedented rains a few days ago and the current Omicron outbreak, work is progressing on schedule," the minister tweeted.
"Everything is on track. We will be able to get it ready by the 26th," Manoj Joshi, Secretary (Urban Development), told NDTV.
Some 24,000 people are expected to watch the parade from Rajpath. There will be no chief guest this year because of Covid.
There is no change in the parade route, say officials who are prepping for a media preview at the weekend.
"There will just be better pathways connected to storm water drains and micro-irrigation systems, some walkways and better modelled stands for seating," an official said.
The 477-crore Central Vista Rajpath project is far from over, however, and much of the construction work will be completed only after the Republic Day celebrations.
The project was to be completed in December but has been delayed for various reasons, ranging from the pandemic and restrictions to heavy, unseasonal rain.
The Central Vista Redevelopment Project involves the do-over of a 3.2-km stretch in the heart of Delhi, which was designed by the British before Independence, at the cost of Rs 20,000 crore.
Several government buildings, including the Parliament House and ministry offices, will be rebuilt as part of the project, which has faced several legal challenges.