The North and South Blocks, which symbolise the government authority since their inception in Lutyens’ Delhi, are likely to reflect the history of India till 1857 and post the First War of Independence as the Centre has planned to convert the two heritage buildings into museums as part of its Central Vista redevelopment project. An official in the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, the nodal agency for the ambitious project of the Modi government, said people would have access to the North and South Blocks once they are turned into museums. At present, the South Block houses the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs, while the North Block has offices of Home Ministry and Finance Ministry.
The redevelopment of the Central Vista — the nation’s power corridor in Delhi — envisages a triangular Parliament building next to the existing one, a common Central Secretariat for ministries and the revamping of the three-km-long Rajpath — from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. “According to the current plan, South Block will reflect the country’s history till 1857 while North Block will show the history after 1857. These two historic buildings will be converted into grand museums. People will have easy access to them, which is currently a high-security zone,” the official said. However, a final decision on the plan is yet to be taken by the government.
Official said North and South Blocks symbolise the government authority since their inception and that is the main rationale behind these iconic buildings being converted into museums. The common Central Secretariat will comprise 10 new office buildings. There are 25,000 to 32,000 employees working in various ministries in different locations of the Lutyens’ Delhi. The common Central Secretariat will accommodate more employees at one place.
According to an estimate, the government is paying Rs 1,000 crore as rent annually for its offices spread across the national capital. Nirman Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, vice-president’s house, Udyog Bhawan, Shastri Bhawan are among those buildings in Lutyens’ buildings, which are likely to be razed for the construction of a common Central Secretariat. Under the project, there is also a plan to shift the prime minister’s residence and office near the South Block, and the vice-president’s new house will be in the vicinity of the North Block.
The new Parliament building will have a seating capacity of 900 to 1,200 MPs, and have modern facilities like computer screens on tables and comfortable seating space, and offices for Union ministers and MPs, as per the plan. The triangular Parliament building is expected to be built by August 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day. The common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024.