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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

North, South Blocks will be made National Museums: Centre to SC

The existing V-P Residence plot shall be made available for 3 Common Central Secretariat buildings which will form the Defence Enclave, it said.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: October 30, 2021 8:36:05 am
North, South Blocks will be made National Museums: Centre to SCThe museums will be open to the public at large and serve important public purposes, said the CPWD in an affidavit filed in court. (Archive)

The government told the Supreme Court that once the development of the Central Vista project is complete, the North and South Blocks will be converted into National Museums and will be open to the public.

In an affidavit filed in the SC, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) said the two blocks, “which cover nearly 27 acres and are proposed to be converted into National Museums showcasing ‘India in making’ prehistoric to present date. The museums will be open to the public at large and serve important public purposes”.

The affidavit was filed in response to a plea which challenged the change in use of a piece of land — plot number 1 — in the project area from recreational to residential, contending that it would lead to loss of public recreational area. The CPWD, however, pointed out that though it is listed as recreational, offices have been functioning on it for almost 90 years now.

“It is important to note that de-facto, the area of Plot No. 1 is currently being used as Government Office… of the Ministry of Defence for almost 90 years now and no recreational activity (neighbourhood play area) exists as per actual ground conditions in Plot No. 1,” the affidavit stated, adding that “the place has not ever been open for the general public to utilise it for any public recreational purposes”.

The Department said there is no residing population or residential colony in the vicinity of the plot and only office premises of the Ministry of Defence are functioning in the said area.

The affidavit said considering the overall public purpose of the Central Vista and overall vision behind it, loss of space has been compensated and, in fact, various public areas have been increased for the purpose of recreation.

Nearly 118 hectares of land — near Akshardham Temple on Yamuna’s eastern bank and near IP Thermal Power Station on the western bank — is also being developed as AMRUT Biodiversity Park to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence, “fulfilling the recreational purpose aspirations of public at large”, it pointed out.

The affidavit stated that the six plots on the Central Vista, with which the present issue relates to, housed structures that were built as temporary barracks or stables during the Second World War according to the needs and requirements of that time.

“As of today, these structures occupy an area of over 90 acres, including L&M Block near North Block (Plot No. 1), A&B Block near South Block, Plot No.30 on Tyagraj Marg, Plot No.36 & 38, Jamnagar House and Jodhpur House,” the affidavit said, adding that “these precious pieces of land on the Vista are highly under-utilised”.

The CPWD said the Vice-President’s Residence has been proposed to be constructed on Plot No. 1 in Central Vista.

“This will in turn help in easing the traffic situation in Central Vista (CV) as the movement of Hon’ble Vice-President will be mainly to the Parliament when in session. This will be well facilitated by the proposed Hon’ble Vice-President Residence being in close proximity to Parliament”.

The existing V-P Residence plot shall be made available for 3 Common Central Secretariat buildings which will form the Defence Enclave, it said.

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