New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will conduct the 'Bhoomi Poojan' (ground-breaking ceremony) of the Indian Army's new headquarters, Thal Sena Bhawan, in Delhi Cantonment area on Friday.
The Bhawan, a multi-storied green building, will be constructed opposite the Manekshaw Centre at Delhi Cantonment within the next five years. Spread over 39 acres, it will accommodate over 6,000 personnel and have a residential complex. The Army Chief, who currently occupies an office in New Delhi's South Block, will also have an office at the Thal Sena Bhawan.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government plans to give Lutyens Delhi a makeover over the next five years. In one of the proposals in its Central Vista plan, the government plans to convert the majestic North and South Block into museums. The ministries working out of these blocks, namely the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of External Affairs (all in South Block), the Home Ministry and the Finance Ministry (in North Block) will be provided with new buildings.
The government's Central Vista redevelopment project envisages a triangular Parliament building next to the existing one. However, the Sena Bhawan at Rajaji Marg will not be impacted.
Welcoming the move, a senior Army officer said it was good that South Block will be converted into a museum under the government's new plan.
"Look around you. Is this where a disciplined force like the Indian Army should be working out from? Dogs and monkeys roam around like the place belongs to them. The bathrooms are smelly. It takes away from the Army's sheen," he said.
For more than a decade the Army has been demanding a new space as its multiple departments and branches are scattered in eight pockets across the city due to lack of space in South Block buildings. Along with the Chief of Army Staff, other important directorates of the Army like the DGMO and MS branch also have their offices in the two buildings. The Army already has a Sena Bhawan at Rajaji Marg, very close to the South Block. But lack of space led to various departments being scattered across New Delhi, including at RK Puram and Kashmir House.
Given the physical distance between the various department offices, it was long felt that the offices in these eight pockets need to be brought under one roof for better coordination and faster implementation. However, the government did not pay heed to its demand for almost 10 years. The army, under the then chief General Bipin Rawat, pushed through a proposal to build the Thal Sena Bhawan on defence land.
Will Thal Sena Bhawan be the Army's new headquarters?
According to sources associated with the government's new project, it is possible the Thal Sena Bhawan could be named as the Army's new Headquarters. The source claimed there would be a reshuffle of offices. Departments and directorates confined only to the Army would reportedly be shifted to the Thal Sena Bhawan in Delhi Cantt. However, important directorates including the Chief of the Indian Army working in close coordination with the Centre would continue to have their office in central Delhi.