Friday, 17 September 2021 | PNS | New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday inaugurated the new Defence Ministry buildings, which is a part of the Central Vista project, and slammed its critics saying ease of living and doing business is the main objective to undertake this initiative.
Making this assertion after inaugurating the two new multi-storey swanky office complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue, he also said those opposing the project never bothered to find out about the working condition of the armed forces personnel and others in the old buildings and hutments.
“Today, in the 75th year of Independence, we are taking another step towards developing the national Capital according to the needs and aspirations of the new India,” he said.
The two buildings will house more than 7,000 employees of the Defence Ministry and the armed forces. Modi said these new office complexes are going to “further strengthen our efforts to make the working of our forces more convenient and effective.”
His remarks were in apparent response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who described the Central Vista project a “criminal wastage” of resources and urged the Government to divert money to battling the pandemic.
The Congress had also urged the Government to halt the project and prioritise upgrading medical infrastructure.
The officers and other staffers of the Defence Ministry and the armed forces are moving into the new office complexes from their existing workplaces in hutments in and around the South Block at the Raisina Hills.
“When we talk about the Capital, it is not just a city. The Capital of any country is a symbol of the thinking, determination, strength and culture of that country,” Modi said. He also said India is the mother of democracy and the Capital should be such that its Central focus should be people.
The two buildings, constructed by the Housing and Urban Affairs with resources allocated by the Defence Ministry, have an office space of 9.60 lakh sq feet.
“Today, when we are focusing on ease of living and ease of doing business, modern infrastructure plays an equally important role in this. This is the spirit at the core of the work being done today related to the Central Vista,” the Prime Minister said.
The Central Vista project, including the revamp of Parliament Complex, is likely to cost around Rs 20,000 crore. Modi said the critics of the project cared more about their “personal agendas” than the condition of key Government offices and Ministries.
“We all saw how some people tried to sabotage the important Central Vista project… how they ran personal agendas to spread misinformation. But not once did they speak about the condition of these hutments… from where our Ministries work. Not once did they mention the new Defence Ministry complexes and how crucial they are,” the Prime Minister said.
Hundreds of workers got employment in this project during the Corona period, he noted. The Prime Minister credited this to a new thinking and approach in the Government’s functioning.
The Prime Minister said that these defence office complexes are the manifestation of the changing work culture and priorities of the Government. Optimal and proper use of available land with various departments of the Government is one such priority, he said.
The old offices — around 700 hutments spread over 50 acres — will be redeveloped to house a new “Executive Enclave”, which will include a new residence for the Prime Minister.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the defence office complexes were in line with the Prime Minister’s vision for “New India” and his commitment to the Central Vista project.
Meanwhile, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri said the redevelopment work of the Central Vista Avenue, stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate will be completed within two-and-a-half months.
According to the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, the project will be ready in time to host the Republic Day parade in 2022.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Defence Ministry complex, Puri asserted that the Winter session of Parliament next year will take place in the new Parliament building.
The Minister said the construction work of these two new buildings was completed in just 12 months. The project generated over 6.4 lakh person days of employment. He said light gauge steel framing (LGSF) technology has been used in constructing these two new office buildings. He also said 8,782 metric tonnes of steel and 7,920 metric tonnes of cement have been used in the construction work.