Netaji Statue, 16 Bridges, 106 Toilets: What's New at the Central Vista Avenue?

Does the revamped Central Vista Avenue stay true to its heritage and retain its old charm?

3 min read
Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad

Low-level bridges over canals, red sandstone benches, and pedestrian-friendly walkways are among the most prominent features on the redeveloped Central Vista stretch.

A day after the redeveloped 'Kartavya Path,' or what we all know as Rajpath, was inaugurated on 8 September by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Quint visited the stretch to find out what has changed after the Rs 477 crore project.


What Makes the Stretch Important?

The history of the stretch can be traced to 1911 when the Emperor of India, George V, decided to shift the British Empire's administrative capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Following this, architects Edward Lutyens and Herbert Baker envisaged a new city which would serve as the centre of administration in the country. Over the next two decades, the central vista was constructed and was formally inaugurated in 1931.

The avenue stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan, formerly Viceroy's House, to the India Gate, with the North and South Blocks of the secretariat building on the sides, and is flanked with green area and water canals.

The path was called Kingsway in honour of George V. Post-Independence, the stretch was renamed to Rajpath, to signal the end of the British Raj.

For the second time in history, a day before the inauguration of the redeveloped vista on 8 September, the path was renamed to 'Kartavya Path' following a decision by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).

The entry points of the stretch display green boards reading the new name 'Kartavya Path'.


Toilets, Bridges, Red-Granite Walkways: What Are the New Features?

The stretch, redeveloped by HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd, comprises 106 toilets, 16 permanent bridges, and 140 new trees.

About 16.5 km of new paved walkways have been added on the stretch in the form of sidewalks and walkways over lawns and across the canals.

There are 106 toilets on the new central vista avenue, of which 64 are for women, 32 are for men, and 10 are accessible toilets. The Quint, however, found that only a few of them are functional yet. Water kiosks are to be found on the stretch but could not be spotted easily either.

The iconic chain-link fences have been replaced with newer ones that replicate the older ones.

A statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was unveiled by the prime minister on 8 September. The 28-ft granite statute is crafted by sculptor Arun Yogiraj. The black granite statue has been carved from a monolithic block of granite.


'Glad That New Amenities Are Available,' Say Visitors

Visitors coming to India Gate seem to be happy with the redeveloped vista and new amenities, like toilets and water kiosks.

Meenal, who had come from Gurugram to see the newly inaugurated stretch, said, "We have grown up with the India Gate… It has completely changed. Seeing this new statue is a proud moment for all of us." About the amenities, she added, "There are toilets now. Earlier we would have to leave and then come back if we needed a toilet. This was particularly difficult for women."

Meanwhile, Jayakumar Pillai (49) brought his friend to the redeveloped stretch, thinking that he would like it since he was a student of history. "I used to come here with friends, with family and I would bring my children here before. That's why I brought my friend, who is visiting Delhi for the first time, here today," he reminisced.

His friend, Baby Sam (62), who is visiting from Kerala, said that he feels like he has visited Delhi after coming to India Gate. He said, "The redevelopment shows that the country is progressing…"

Rakesh (28), a gol-gappa seller who has been working on the stretch for 8-9 years, said that it now has a "VIP style to it."

"We earn more on this stretch. When it was shut, I would sell outside Sunder Nursery, near Nizamuddin and some other areas. But when India Gate opens, it makes a difference to us," Rakesh added.

Another family walking on the stretch wondered what was inaugurated by the prime minister the previous day, expecting to see a new Parliament.

However, the stretch is only one part of the Rs 13,450 crore Central Vista project that includes a new Parliament building, new ministry buildings, and new offices and residences for the vice president and the prime minister, which we can expect to see over the course of the next few years.

One of the foremost concerns regarding the Central Vista project was whether it would stay true to its heritage and retain its old charm. A verdict can only be passed after the project is completed.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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