Traditional experts were unhappy with the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday that only part of Central Vista could be declared a heritage site, while approving environmental and land use changes pave the way for the start of a nearly ₹ 15,000 crore redevelopment project.
Five petitioners – and 10 petitioners – challenged the redevelopment plan in relation to the Centre’s lack of transparency and objectivity.
Pointing out that the Delhi Master Plan 2021 Ludians Bungalow Zone (or LPZ) is listed as one of the city’s six heritage zones, AG Krishna Menon, a founding member and eminent architect of Indochina, argued that Central Vista should not be seen as a piece of cake; Its traditional value lies in its role as “a great public space” as a place of power in its present process.
The redesign plan “changed the importance of the place,” he said.
“Of course, change is important, but we need to ask what adds and enhances the traditional value of a place. By demolishing buildings and evacuating others, what importance do we retain? Menon, one of the five petitioners who challenged the plan in the Supreme Court, asked. Together with petitioners Rajiv Suri and Anuj Srivastava, he said the redesign plan would destroy the traditional value of Central Vista.
Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management Ltd., which is redesigning Central Vista, is proposing to turn the northern and southern blocks into museums with offices for the ministries of finance, defense and housing.
The redevelopment plan also proposes to demolish some of the buildings located on either side of the Avenue to build a new set of buildings that will now bring all the ministry offices spread across Delhi in one place.
Writer and Delhi historian Swapna Little said the High Court-approved land use change – all seven tiers for redevelopment in the region are subject to change, which is broadly related to four types of land use: recreational, government, semi-public and residential – paving the way for future changes.
“So, for example, the shift in land use from entertainment to government is forever lost to the public,” Little said.
HCP director Bimal Patel said the project would not disrupt traditional buildings.
“The proposed master plan respects the existing layout and aims to strengthen it. All works planned in Central Vista are designed to respect traditional buildings, sites and their character.
(With entries by Risha Chitlangia)