There will be no external changes to the iconic Raisina Hill complex and the parliament building in Delhi, the government promised on Friday, as it awarded a consultancy contract to Gujarat-based HCP Design, Planning & Management for revamping the high-profile district in the heart of the capital city.
"There is no question of changing the exterior facade of parliament. Right now the parliament building is not adequate to house the number of members of parliament. Some MPs don't have place to sit and there is congestion," Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri told NDTV.
HCP, which will be paid Rs 229.75 crore for consultancy services, will prepare the master plan of the project, including designs, cost estimation, landscape and traffic integration plans, and parking facilities among others, he said at a news conference. The consultation fee is around 3 per cent of the total project cost, Mr Puri said.
Headquartered in Ahmedabad, HCP is led by architect Bimal Patel and has developed several projects, including the Sabarmati Riverfront Development where Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently held a mammoth event to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.
The minister said that most alterations to the legacy buildings will be on their interiors while new ones will be made to meet the requirements. Contracts for the project will be given out before the second half of 2020, he said.
The work on the central vista - the area between the India Gate and the Rashtrapati Bhavan - will be completed by November 2021, a new parliament building by March 2022 and a common central secretariat by March 2024, according to the government. The plan has been prepared keeping in mind India's 75th Independence Day in 2022.
For the new common central secretariat, several buildings such as the Shastri Bhawan, the Nirman Bhawan, the Krishi Bhawan and the Udyog Bhawan may be razed. The government has not taken a decision on it yet.
"It's a very a major project which will be executed on mission-mode... the time has now come to build modern, world-class, energy-efficient buildings which will be defining the characteristic of Delhi as a leading world capital for the next 200 years," Mr Puri told reporters.
Prabhakar Singh, the Director General of the Central Public Works Department, told NDTV: "The parliament, the North and South Blocks are heritage buildings and we would not like to tinker with them. All efforts will be made to keep them as they are."
"We are thinking that we'll make a new parliament building and then the current one will be renovated and retro-fitted for earthquake resistance, for the leakage-seepage problems, for plaster falling off the ceilings and challenges in firefighting," he added.
Built between 1911 and 1931, the government offices on Raisina Hill were designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker to house the offices of the viceroy and the secretariat in an area now known as Lutyens' Delhi. The majestic parliament building was also built in the same period. With their towering columns, arches, domes and cornices, they command an impressive presence in the capital.