The Railway Board has given its approval to redesign its headquarters based on the "aesthetics" of the Central Vista project, even as the fate of the Rail Bhawan in Lutyens Delhi remains unclear as plans for the Rs 20,000-crore redevelopment drive are yet to be finalised.Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed Rajya Sabha last week that it has not finalised the number of buildings to be remodelled or demolished under its ambitious Central Visa redevelopment project.
The Centre's redevelopment plan envisages a new triangular Parliament building, a common central secretariat and revamping of the three-km-long Rajpath from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate.
The approval from the Railway Board to its infrastructure arm, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), for the revamping, renovation and modernisation of the Rail Bhawan building so as to provide spacious, well-ventilated and clutter-free working ambience was sent on March 22.
In a letter, the board has provided options for the building and asked the RVNL to come up with two different plans for renovation of the Rail Bhawan -- one with cost estimate and timelines for renovation in a phased manner while the office is in working mode and another with cost estimate and timelines for complete renovation in one go with an alternative arrangement for Rail Bhawan office till such time of renovation.
In another option, the board has also asked the RVNL to explore options of moving the building elsewhere.
"RVNL may also study and submit a plan with cost and time required for construction of new building for Rail Bhawan duly identifying the suitable location out of the land bank available with NR (northern railway) or with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs. While developing the above plans, overall aesthetics of the upcoming Central Vista Project may be kept in view," the letter, a copy of which is with PTI, stated.
When contacted, Rail officials confirmed that such an approval has been given and said that the renovations were to ensure that the Rail Bhavan was in line with the design of the Central Vista plans.
"This is at a nascent stage only to hire a consultant," an official said.
On September 2, the Central Public Works Department under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs released a tender calling for proposals for "Development/Redevelopment of Parliament Building, Common Central Secretariat and Central Vista".
The tender is not specific about the structures that could possibly be demolished. However, Rail Bhavan finds mention in the tender under the section of Common Secretariat, where different ministries will be housed.
The tender stated that these buildings have shortage of working spaces, parking, amenities and services.
"The spread of central government ministries and departments in different locations leads to inefficiencies and difficulty in coordination," it mentioned, explaining the concept of a common secretariat.
The plan of the Central Vista project involves having a new Parliament building in place by India's 75th Independence Day in 2022, while the entire project, which includes constructing 11 administrative buildings to house all the government ministries, is slated to be finished by 2024.
Tata Projects Limited was tasked with the construction of the new Parliament complex on September 29, 2020.
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