Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment: Environmentalists and landscape experts write to CPWD over redesign issues

By: |
February 16, 2021 1:06 PM

As per the plan released by the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Housing, there will be multiple changes to Central Vista Avenue.

Central Vista Avenue, redevelopmentThe project's phase-I was awarded by CPWD to Shapoorji Pallonji Company Private Limited at Rs 477 crore cost through competitive bidding on January 8 and the work on this project began last Thursday.

Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment: Landscape artists and environmentalists, facing issues with the redesign plan for Central Vista Avenue, have written to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). As per the plan released by the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Housing, there will be multiple changes to Central Vista Avenue- with pedestrian underpasses, new parking lots, wide walkways or footpaths, bridges across canals, an irrigation system, more trees along with more lawn area, and specific vending areas. The project’s phase-I was awarded by CPWD to Shapoorji Pallonji Company Private Limited at Rs 477 crore cost through competitive bidding on January 8 and the work on this project began last Thursday, according to an IE report.

LokPATH, an organization that submitted some objections, said the Central Vista precinct, and not only individual buildings, is protected as a Heritage site of grade 1. This includes landscape, plots, boundaries, and streetscape elements as well as natural features like trees and water bodies, and not just the buildings situated in it. The organization further said that no information has been shared about the Automated People Mover (APM), which physically endangers various heritage elements as well as structures of the Central Vista.

Besides, objection was also raised over the elimination of pedestrian movement on Rajpath by zebra crossings’ removal, and changing the red murrum into hard pavements, which can increase the flooding risk as it restricts rainwater run-off as well as disrupts both the recreational use of the green and its grandeur, the report said. In regard to 16 number of bridges proposed across the canals, LokPATH said it is interventionist encroachment on the heritage structure’s top and is a clear violation of grade 1 heritage protection given to Central Vista Avenue.

The organization also wrote that hard paved parking will lead to a drastic reduction in water table replenishment, endangering Central Vista’s entire plantation as well as unmitigated flooding in the region. So far, there has been no submission of the water drainage plan. Moreover, under the law, demolition and reduction of the historic water bodies’ length at Man Singh Marg is a clear violation of grade 1 heritage protection, it further said.

Meanwhile, objections were also submitted by the Indian Society of Landscape Architects (ISOLA), stating that there are issues of maintenance and the lack thereof has rendered the space undesirable in parts. Within the larger spatial design, these aspects are easily remedied through a maintenance and management regimen and do not demand the redesigning of the entire precinct, it said. Apart from this, the issue of walkways was also raised by ISOLA saying that additional footpaths, bridges, etc., contribute to a disjointed, incohesive space, and the construction and operational impact on the existing trees and landscape is not considered by the APM.

ISOLA also said that placing vendors at the ends can lead to their marginalization. It also raised ecological concerns, saying that depletion of groundwater recharge due to the added basement as well as underground structures, toilet blocks, amphitheatres and hard paving require urgent attention.

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