NEW DELHI: The architects firm picked to design New Delhi’s Central Vista has suggested shifting the Prime Minister’s residence from Lok Kalyan Marg to where the Dalhousie Road hutments now are, just south of Raisina Hills. Officials, however, said the final decision on all aspects including the location of PM House and the new Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will be taken after wider consultation. The Ahmedabad-based architecture and urban design firm HCP Design has made the proposal for shifting the PM’s residence in its proposed master plan for the massive revamp of Central Vista (Rajpath), construction of a new Parliament and Central Secretariat. “We have only completed the first step of selecting the firm that will come up with the overall development plan. The government, Lok Sabha Speaker and other top functionaries will be consulted before finalising the entire design and architecture proposals, particularly regarding the new parliament and office complexes. It’s a project of national importance and it will go through several rounds of scrutiny,” an urban affairs ministry official said. The project is being implemented by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) under the urban affairs ministry.
In the proposed master plan, HCP has suggested that the existing parliament could be converted as “Museum of Indian Democracy” and North and South Block could be used to showcase “India at 75” and “The Making of India” respectively. While announcing the name of the selected urban design firm, Union urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said the facade of North and South Blocks wouldn’t be touched and the existing Parliament House wouldn’t be demolished. HCP has suggested that the new Parliament can come up close to the existing one. In fact, even the Lok Sabha secretariat had indicated this while seeking suggestions from sitting MPs “for either renovation of the existing Parliament building or construction of altogether a new Parliament building within the given premises”. Sources said there is enough space to build a new structure behind the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which faces the present Parliament building. Currently, this space is used for parking. They added that while the existing parliament has huge open space, the new one could have more built-up area to accommodate the possibility of more MPs after fresh delimitation. Urban affairs ministry officials said the conceptual plan of HCP was selected considering that the entire proposal was not flashy and was close to the government’s requirement. They added that the current height restrictions in the Lutyens’ area at 26 to 32 meters would be maintained while sealing the redevelopment plan. Some of the buildings may be razed and even a new Central Conference Centre may come up. Currently, Vigyan Bhawan is used for conferences.“The overall plan is to ensure that there will be no on-ground parking across the area and there will be adequate underground parking space to meet the requirement. There could be a low-speed circular rail type facility that can connect all the office buildings that form part of the Central Secretariat,” said a source.The government has estimated expenditure of around Rs 10,000 crore and has set March 2024 as the deadline for completing all projects, just two months before the next general elections.