In Retrospect – Some highlights of 2019

In Retrospect – Some highlights of 2019

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A total of 37 World Heritage sites in India are there at present which are under the protection of various government agencies. For example, hill forts of Rajasthan like Chittaurgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Jaisalmer and Ranthambhore, Amber and Gagron Forts are under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India while Amber and Gagron Forts are under protection of Rajasthan State Archaeology and Museums

December being the last month of the year, it is now time to take stock of our achievements and also some failures, deviations, disruptions, etc. Being an year of General Elections, there are no paucity for juicy news during the year. However, leaving aside all such political and politically influenced news we have listed out some for your ready reference in the first part.

CoA elects its first woman Vice President

Council of Architecture elected new President and Vice President through the election held on 22nd October. Though the elections are the normal rituals held every once in three years but it’s the election of the Vice President which created a record. In the history of CoA for the first time a woman was elected to the post of Vice President. Ar. Sapna, Chief Architect, Dept. of Architecture, Govt. of Punjab, was elected as Vice President while Nagpur based Architect Habeeb Khan has been elected as the new President of the Council.

Ar. Bipin Patel’s firm wins Central Vista Contract

Central Vista of New Delhi was at the centre of discussion as the government announced its decision to revamp large parts of Lutyens’ Delhi, which includes revamping or building a new Parliament House by 2022 and razing a number of buildings to construct an integrated complex to house all government departments and ministries. Though the plan was there in the air before the General Elections itself, it gained momentum soon after the new government took over the office. A request for proposal (RFP) from national and international architectural firms for development or redevelopment of the Parliament building was invited in September and six firms submitted the bids for RFP. In October, Ahmedabad based Bipin Patel’s firm, HCP Design, Planning & Management Pvt Ltd won the contract. While the timelines given to CPWD to complete the Central Vista project is November, 2021, the work on Parliament building is to be completed by March, 2022 and the common Central Secretariat by March 2024.

Amaravati’s future hangs in balance

River Krishna may say ‘Government and Chief Ministers may come and go but I will go on forever.’ But the proposed capital of Andhra, Amaravati which is located close to the river Krishna may not be able to say so. As the government changed in Andhra Pradesh, plans for the new capital city too seemed to have changed. In September, the new government set up a five-member committee, comprising urban planning experts to review the project and suggest a comprehensive strategy for capital Amaravati among other things. Till date the government has not made its intentions clear and the construction activity in the area has come to a standstill.  Before this high drama, World Bank had already made its decision to back out from the project public.

Jaipur in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites

India’s dream run at UNESCO continued in 2019 too as the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, popularly known as ‘Pink City’ made it to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. India seems to have made it a habit to get its heritage sites listed on UNESCO world Heritage list since last few years. In 2017, Ahmedabad city was declared India’s first heritage city by UNESCO. Last year, UNESCO declared Mumbai’s Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles as World Heritage Site.  With this, India’s 30 cultural sites, 7 natural sites and one mixed site are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Further, there are 42 sites on UNESCO’s tentative list pending final decision.

Light House Project makes progress

Construction Technology India (CTI) 2019 Expo-cum-Conference under Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC-India) was held on 2nd March 2019 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi in which alternate and proven construction technologies for speedier and cost-effective construction of affordable housing were presented. In continuation, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) had published Request for Proposals (RFPs) for construction of Light House Projects (LHPs) at six selected sites under GHTC-India. These LHPs will be constructed at Indore, Rajkot, Chennai, Ranchi, Agartala and Lucknow. The government is planning to build a total of 6,368 houses including associated facilities and services by using six distinct alternate technologies suitable to the geo-climatic conditions at these selected sites within the framework of PMAY (U).

Statue of Unity completes one year

Since its inauguration on October 31, 2018, the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest such structure, has attracted 29.38 lakh tourists till November 16, 2019. Now the Gujarat state government is planning to establish a development and tourism authority for the area around the 182-metre tall Statue of Unity. According to the proposal, the land acquired for the developer of the region will be deemed as land needed for public purpose and will come under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

Status of Smart City Mission

By now all 100 cities have been identified under Smart city Mission and the government has also clarified that there is no proposal under consideration for expansion of the Smart Cities Mission. While it’s too early to assess whether the Mission has made any difference to the life of people living in those cities, the pace of project implementation under the Mission has picked up. 4178 projects totalling about Rs 1,50.000 crore are either under implementation or completed. Till now 1296 projects worth Rs 23,170 crore have been completed.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) is another ambitious project of the government which is picking up pace as the deadline is approaching. A total 93,00,949 houses have so far been sanctioned for beneficiaries under the Scheme; out of this, 55,40,801 are at various stages of construction and 28,06,465 are completed. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) which is implementing Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) [PMAY(U)] since 25.06.2015 has asked States/UTs to get their project proposals for all their remaining demand of houses sanctioned by March, 2020 so that construction of all houses may progressively be completed by 2022.