On 31st May 2021, the Delhi High court subdued the appeal to halt construction work pertaining to the central vista project amidst the nation’s ongoing battle against the pandemic. The central vista project, as per the court, is of fundamental importance to the nation. While passing the order, a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh stated that the PIL was ‘motivated’ and ‘not genuine .’Thereby, the PIL will not be heeded, and the petitioners will face Rs 1 lakh fine because the petition is not legitimate and the company is providing for its employees.
In a joint petition, petitioners Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian, claimed that the project is not crucial. Concerning the safety of onsite workers and citizens, the plea seeks a halt on its construction for the nonce. Simultaneously, they disputed the centre’s claim to have all medical facilities and other amenities.
Nonetheless, the court declined the allegations as it observed that the Covid-19 protocols are adhered to by the centre for the safety of the workers living on site. Hence, there’s no need to put a hiatus on the project. Adding to it, the court contends that according to the contract, the company has to finish the project by November 2021 so that the Republic Day parade can be conducted in its conventional way.
Controversies surrounding Central Vista Project:
Central vista project is a redevelopment plan from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate that stretches up to 3-km long. The government has allotted 20,000 crores for its implementation in March. However, the opposition party has jabbed it as a wasteful expenditure by the government. It further contended that the government should ramp up the health infrastructure while deflecting the funds. Moreover, An open letter signed recently by 60 retired civil servants expressing skepticism about the Central Vista project stated that the project began, if reports are ‘to be believed’, due to a “superstitious” belief that the Parliament building is “unlucky.”
Centre responds to the “allegations”:
Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs on Monday, claims that a false narrative circumventing the Central Vista Project has been created amongst the public for the past few months. He contended that an alleged cost of 20000 crores was being cited for targeting the government. The emphasis is on two projects: a new Parliament building and Central Vista Avenue, both estimated to cost around 1300 crores. The government is determined to complete the following projects before the 75th Celebration of Republic Day.
In the interview with reporters, he further asserted that there would be no damage to the historical structure and that a new Parliament Building was a “necessity,” not a vanity project. Moreover, it was in 2012 when the decision to build a new Parliament Building was taken. At that time the Congress was in power.
As far as the open letter is concerned, he said that the letter was not based on facts and that some of the signers had got to have their heads examined before signing it. He referred to those civil servants as “educational fools,” claiming that any civil servant with more than 40 years of experience would not rely on reports that needed to be “believed.” Some mischief and wishful thinking were going on.