© ICOMOS India
Central Vista – Redevelopment Project
By Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, New Delhi, India, 1911-1931

Docomomo International would like to draw your attention for the proposed Redevelopment of the Central Vista in New Delhi, India, shared by the coordinator of the NSC 20C, ICOMOS India.
ICOMOS India prepared the document Central Vista Heritage Resource Concerns and Intervention Parameters, in order to provide heritage-specific guidance and directions with the hope to ensure that well established heritage conservation norms and guidelines are adhered to the core values and character of the historic site are not adversely compromised in any manner.

“Central Vista, the most iconic part of India’s capital city, valued worldwide as an exceptional urban ensemble, is proposed for redevelopment by the Government of India. New Delhi, of which the Central Vista is the main axis, was designed by world-renowned architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker and built between 1911 and 1931. Although conceived as the core of the British colonial imperial city, it has been used since India’s independence in 1947, as the capital complex of the sovereign republic of India. Central Vista is one of the most visited tourist places in Delhi. It is used for ceremonial parades and various other functions, which howcase the Capital to the world. The lawns and green spaces are an important space for the public, where large crowds throng daily.

The proposed redevelopment involves re-planning of the entire Central Vista, from the gates of  Rashtrapati Bhavan up to India Gate, an area of approximately 4 square kilometers. It is indeed alarming that this development proposed in the central core of the city will include government offices. From the minimal information available in the public domain, the project when fully realised will include ten massive buildings to serve as the Common Central Secretariat, a new Parliament building alongside the existing one, a residence for the Vice President, Prime Minister and offices for the Prime Minister Office. The project has been criticized on several counts including its lack of sensitivity to the historical site (which is on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites) and many procedural lapses concerning heritage regulations.

Our concern regarding this redevelopment was earlier expressed in the publication, Heritage at Risk, World Report 2016-2019 on Monuments and Sites in Danger. Subsequently, acting upon a request from the undersigned as Coordinator of the National Scientific Committee on Twentieth Century Heritage (NSC20C), the Executive Committee, ICOMOS India, approved the constitution of the ‘Central Vista Working Committee’ (CVWC), a technical-scientific group to study the proposed development and prepare recommendations.

See the Central Vista Heritage Resource Concerns and Intervention Parameters document: ICOMOS India Central Vista Concerns.

This document, through identification of the Central Vista precinct and analysis of the historic evolution of the site, highlights its inherent cultural heritage values and significance that are at risk of irretrievable loss. The anticipated impact of the redevelopment project on the heritage character of the entire site is discussed. The document also outlines the various statutory, legal frameworks, and heritage conservation guidelines that apply to the heritage precinct. It also discusses the potential impacts on the intangible cultural values of the site. The document addresses the complex layers of heritage values, historic associations, and contemporary urban development challenges that face the all-important heritage core of New Delhi. This study provides recommendations to effectively ensure retention, protection, management, and sustainability of the intrinsic heritage values of the unified urban ensemble of the Central Vista precinct, both tangible and intangible, as well as of individual architectural entities.

The Central Vista Redevelopment Project, despite objections from a wide cross-section of society, has now cleared most hurdles and is ready to go on ground. (in fact construction of the Parliament Building commenced some months back).”

Docomomo International expresses his concerns about the nature and scale of this development, and hopes that the heritage-specific guidance provided by ICOMOS India and all of his efforts to preserve the character of the historic site will be heard by the International Community.