Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated a stretch of the redeveloped Central Vista from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate that’s been renamed from Rajpath to Kartavya Path. He has also unveiled a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Addressing the gathering in front of India Gate, PM Modi said: “Today, we are filling the picture of tomorrow with new colours, leaving behind the past. Today, this new aura is visible everywhere, it is the aura of confidence of new India. Kingsway, that is, Rajpath, the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever. Today, a new history has been created in the form of ‘Kartavya Path’. I congratulate all the countrymen for their freedom from yet another identity of slavery, in this Amrit Kaal of Independence.”
Known as Kingsway before Independence and Rajpath since 1947, the stretch was renamed as Kartavya Path or “duty road” by the New Delhi Municipal Council on Wednesday. The stretch from India Gate till Rashtrapati Bhavan has been closed to the public since January 2021 for redevelopment works as a part of the larger Central Vista revamp. The ₹477 crore project became the first of the Central Vista projects to be completed and opened to the public with the inauguration.
Speaking about the the 28-feet granite statue of Bose, PM Modi said: “At the time of slavery, there was a statue of the representative of the British Raj. Today, the country has also brought to life a modern, strong India by establishing the statue of Netaji at the same place.”
PM Modi said “Subhas babu” was proud of India’s heritage, while wanting to make India modern. He said if India had followed his path after Independence, the country would have been at great heights today. “But unfortunately, this great hero of ours was forgotten after Independence. His ideas, even the symbols associated with them, were ignored,” he said.
“Today when the Rajpath ceases to exist and has become a Kartavya Path; today when the statue of Netaji has replaced the mark of the statue of George V, then this is not the first example of the abandonment of slavery mentality. This is neither the beginning nor the end. It is a continuous journey of determination till the goal of freedom of mind and spirit is achieved,” PM Modi said.
Before inaugurating the stretch, PM Modi interacted with workers who had been associated with the project and invited them to attend the Republic Day Parade next year as his special guests, he said.
Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the project had been the biggest “transformational project” in the country and one that no other government had thought of.
The revamped stretch has dedicated vending zones for street vendors, replacing the earlier custom of vendors lining up along the road. Parking lots, benches and toilets have been added. A cultural festival would be held at Kartavya Path from Friday to Sunday, including a drone show on the life of Bose.
The statue is part of the Centre’s ₹13,450-crore Central Vista project, which will have a new Parliament building, new office and residences for the Prime Minister and Vice-President and new ministry buildings. The North and South Blocks, the secretariat buildings flanking Rashtrapati Bhavan, will be converted into museums.
The black granite statue has been carved from a monolithic block of granite weighing 280 metric tonne. The block of granite picked for the statue was transported to Delhi from Telangana and the statue was carved out of it in over two months.
According to the government, it symbolises a shift from erstwhile Rajpath being an icon of power to Kartavya Path being an example of public ownership and empowerment.
These steps are in line with the prime minister’s second ‘Panch Pran’ for New India in Amrit Kaal: ‘remove any trace of colonial mindset’, it said.
The traffic police made arrangements to ensure smooth vehicular movement in central Delhi where restrictions were imposed for the event. General traffic movement has been diverted from specific roads from 6 pm to 9 pm, officials said.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has replaced the erstwhile Rajpath signages with new signboards of ‘Kartavya Path’. On Wednesday, the NDMC had approved a proposal to rename Rajpath as ‘Kartavya Path’.
Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Limited has executed the redevelopment of the entire stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate. The project was tendered at ₹477 crore.
The CPWD has set up five vending zones where 40 vendors each will be allowed and two blocks near the India Gate with eight shops each. Some states have shown their interest to set up their food stalls.
The entire stretch has been revamped under the Modi government’s ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project.
In a statement, the prime minister’s office said over the years, Rajpath and adjoining areas of Central Vista Avenue had been witnessing pressure of increasing traffic of visitors, putting stress on its infrastructure.
It lacked basic amenities like public toilets, drinking water, street furniture and adequate parking space. Further, there was inadequate signage, poor maintenance of water features and haphazard parking.
Also, a need was felt to organise the Republic Day parade and other national events in a less disruptive manner with minimal restrictions on public movement.
“The redevelopment has been done bearing these concerns in mind while also ensuring the integrity and continuity of architectural character,” the statement said.
(With Inputs from PTI and The Hindu)