Set to host the G20 summit in 2022, the national capital is being developed as an international cultural and business hub, with two major projects at the heart of this effort.
The projects centre on the redevelopment of Pragati Maidan, already a bustling centre for business and cultural expositions, and the construction of the India International Convention Centre (IIIC) at Dwarka, located conveniently close to the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The Pragati Maidan project
The Pragati Maidan re-development project is aimed at burnishing the venue’s credentials as a commercial and cultural hub, with a convention centre that can accommodate 7,000 people, a proposed hotel, and a museum of natural history.
According to people involved with the project, the proposed museum is likely to be connected with the Delhi Zoological Park, situated just over a kilometre away.
“This ambitious programme [the Pragati Maidan and Dwarka projects] is to give India international-level infrastructure,” said Dikshu Kukreja, the managing principal of C.P. Kukreja architecture firm involved in the projects.
“The Pragati Maidan project will be a great cultural hub. It integrates with the rest of the city, it is linked to the Metro station,” he added. “Right now, there is the National Science Centre there, the crafts museum, and there are plans of developing the Museum of Natural History [nearby],” he added.
The idea is to develop the area in a way that everything comes under one roof, he said, putting forth his vision of a visitor exiting the Metro station and proceeding to the Pragati Maidan halls through covered pathways that will be suitable for use in all seasons.
The IIIC at Dwarka
The India International Convention Centre, meanwhile, will be developed as a business hub, with another Aerocity — the multipurpose quasi-district near the airport with plush hotels and restaurants — as well as a 10,000-seater convention hall and mega exhibition halls on its premises, said Kukreja. Coming up in Sector 25, Dwarka, it will be well-served by Delhi’s vast Metro network.
The Dwarka convention centre, he added, is “double the size of Pragati Maidan”.
“It is far more advanced in terms of infrastructure as well. Also, it is very close to the airport, which is a good place to catch international visitors,” he added.
The project leaders have grand plans for the centre, including to ensure convenient access.
“There will be an underground Metro station that will open into the heart of the convention centre. A road running alongside will also serve it,” he added.
“The Aerocity planned on the premises will have 4,000 hotel rooms, retail [space], offices and museums,” he added.
The idea behind the project is to boost commerce and business in Delhi, with the proposed offices in the complex likely to centre on travel and tourism.
“This is part of the idea that Delhi shouldn’t be large in terms of the sheer size but also from the point of view of development,” he said.
“We should have tourism, we need physical infrastructure for expos, and Delhi, being the capital of the country, needs to have all this infrastructure,” Kukreja added.
‘5 lakh jobs’
The foundation stone of the Dwarka project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2018, and the government expects that the convention centre will generate job opportunities for over 5 lakh people.
“The proposed exhibition centre, convention hall and multi-performance arena developments are estimated to generate over 5 lakh employment opportunities for people,” Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu had said at the stone-laying ceremony.
“This job creation will not be limited to core facilities, but it will have a multiplier effect of direct and indirect spending and entail opportunities for regular formal employment in supporting IICC land uses like retail, office and hospitality,” he added.
It was at last year’s G20 summit in Argentina that PM Modi had announced India would host the summit in 2022, the same year it celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence.
This will be the first time India hosts the annual gathering of leaders of the world’s prominent “advanced and emerging” economies, comprising 19 countries and the European Union counted as one entity. Together, they represent “about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85 per cent of global gross domestic product and over 75 per cent of global trade”.