Central Vista revamp | Horses, tanks force revision of Rajpath plan

Central Vista revamp | Horses, tanks force revision of Rajpath plan

Feedback regarding movement of horses, Army tanks taken into account, says architect.

Horses and battle tanks that make their way down Rajpath on Republic Day have forced some changes to the plans for the new look of Central Vista Avenue, according to the architect of the project.

While the plan to use granite around India Gate has been shelved for now, the stone pavement replacing the sand path along Rajpath has been tweaked to be coarser at the point where the President’s Bodyguard salute the President on January 26.

Architect Bimal Patel, whose firm HCP Design, Planning and Management, is the Centre’s consultant for the entire Central Vista redevelopment project, said during a presentation at CEPT University in Ahmedabad on October 22 that the “bajri” (sand) along the road was being replaced with granite. He explained the idea of laying the footpath was to include infrastructure under it, replacing the temporary utilities installed for Republic Day parades every year.

“When we are doing these new things, everybody is against it, or not against it but apprehensive. When we did the granite paving, we are looking at it and saying fantastic, it looks good. But these guys who bring their horses during the Republic Day parade said ‘no, no, no, hamare ghode nahi chalenge’ [our horses won’t walk]. We had to do an experiment and let them ride on it,” said Mr. Patel, who is also the president of CEPT University.

He added that the conclusion was that the paving would work, but the one place where the guards salute the President, the paving should be “more granular”.

When asked what the concerns had been, HCP told The Hindu in a written response on Monday: “The horses were not facing any issues. The same paving as the rest of the area will continue along the pathway, with a more coarse finish to ensure additional friction”.

On the other hand, the portion around India Gate that was proposed to be changed from bitumen to granite cobblestone, but the project’s tight deadline (before R-Day 2022) meant it had to be dropped for now. During the parade, heavy equipment like the Arjun Main Battle Tank (around 60 tonnes) and India’s longest-range ballistic missile Agni-V (launch weight of 50 tonnes) roll down Rajpath.

“We didn’t have enough time to do samples and discover what would be the right way to do cobblestones that would take the weight of tanks. World over streets made of granite cobblestone take the weight of tanks, so in theory it is possible…But everybody was apprehensive that the granite should not get damaged,” Mr. Patel said.

He said the first sample that was made did not pass the test and there wasn’t enough time to re-do samples. He said it was decided to drop the idea for now and try out samples at a different location in the future.

Asked when the cobblestone around India Gate would be installed, HCP said: “There is no timeline for this. It will be done as and when an appropriate material and technique for laying the flooring is developed”.

The Central Vista Avenue redevelopment started in February, after the project was awarded by the Central Public Works Department to Shapoorji Pallonji and Co at a cost of ₹477 crore in January.

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