Cancel the bid for the redevelopment of Parliament & built heritage of Lutyens Delhi

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Honourable President,

The Central Public Works Department of the Government of India has recently issued a Notice Inviting Bids from National/International Design and Planning Firms for Appointment of a Consultant for comprehensive Architectural and Engineering planning for the “Development/Redevelopment of Parliament Building, Common Central Secretariat and Central Vista at New Delhi”. This is an appeal to you to cancel this tender. If an order to immediately halt this process is not issued, it is likely to result in the loss of a Grade 1 Heritage site.  

The proposed redevelopment site is one of the most iconic parts of Delhi, that is valued worldwide as an exceptional urban ensemble. Such a major redevelopment proposal has been initiated without consulting stakeholders and public at large. Neither has any adherence to processes like a diagnostic study or needs assessment been followed.

We appeal to your conscience Honourable President to take note of the following and cancel the tender:

  • The notice inviting bids for appointment of a Consultant does not indicate the area to be redesigned  
  • The notice inviting bids does not clarify which buildings are to be redesigned and which buildings will be demolished
  • International best practices suggest that all interventions in a heritage area must be preceded by a Heritage Impact Assessment report, which has not been followed. This goes against the Government of India’s own submission to UNESCO nominating the Lutyens zone among the World Heritage Cities.
  • The notice makes no mention of the impact on environment this will have and how it might be taken care of. The micro-climate of the central vista and the Lutyens zone in Delhi’s aridity, with stretches of water, sculpted fountains and carefully chosen evergreen trees will be lost if this tender is allowed to proceed
  • The large open space available the heart of the city, where thousands throng everyday will be lost forever
  • The notice does not indicate height control of proposed redeveloped buildings, without which the entire look of New Delhi will be destroyed
  • The notice has been issued with no intimation to the public, whose money will be used for this redevelopment project and the entire exercise is being undertaken without any consultation with environmentalists, heritage experts, architects, urban designers, art historians and other stake holders
  • The bid document states that the government wants to build a legacy for the next 150-200 years, but the extremely small timeline proposed to complete the project does not support this objective

A democratic government conceiving a project of this scope demands wider public and professional consultation. Such consultations would yield more satisfactory results and avoid the predictable pitfalls built into the present bid document.

To protect India’s heritage for its future generations, we plead with you to cancel the issuance of the tender.

Sincerely,

Sohail Hashmi

Narayani Gupta

Nikhil Kumar

27 September 2019