‘Central Vista’: The £2bn project to transform central Delhi that even a pandemic couldn’t stop

Colonial-era buildings designed by Britain’s Edward Lutyens are being demolished to make way for a lavish new PM’s residence and vast parliament complex. Stuti Mishra reports from Delhi on why some critics think it shows the wrong priorities

Saturday 24 July 2021 22:51
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<p>Construction waste lays in front of Delhi’s India Gate as part of the ongoing Central Vista project </p>

Construction waste lays in front of Delhi’s India Gate as part of the ongoing Central Vista project

India Gate is one of the South Asian nation’s most recognisable landmarks, and for decades the area has stood as a symbol of the country’s historical heritage, a place for residents to spend their evenings and a spot for some of the biggest protests the nation has seen, symbolising as it does the corridors of power.  

Yet a few months ago, when India’s devastating second Covid wave arrived in the capital city and brought with it apocalyptic scenes of mass cremations and overwhelmed hospitals, the view of the sprawling lawns stretching for 3km up to India Gate in central Delhi also changed. Craters in the earth and mounds of mud appeared in the front of the site, along with barricades stopping anyone from entering. 

As the rest of the city locked down in early April, this construction work was declared an “essential service” and granted permission to continue, so that the central Delhi residents are only now returning to as Covid numbers fall is very different to the one they knew from the start of the year.

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