On May 7, 2021, Friday the Supreme Court rejected the plea against deferment of hearing on a PIL seeking direction to halt construction activity at the Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment Project due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Supreme Court directed the petitioners to approach the Delhi High Court for a hearing of the matter.
The matter was previously heard in the Delhi High Court.
Anya Malhotra, a translator and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker, filed a plea seeking a stay on the construction of the Central Vista project in the Delhi High Court. During the hearing in Delhi High Court on 4 May 2021, on Tuesday, the court refused to issue a notice and put a stay on Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment Project and adjourned the matter till 17 May 2021. A bench headed by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh heard the matter through video conferencing.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General, Chetan Sharma who appeared on behalf of the Central Government argued on the points mentioned by the petitioners. The Delhi High adjourned the hearing till 17 May 2021 saying it wants to go through what the Supreme Court has stated in its judgement given on 5 January 2021, hence giving thumbs up to the ambitious project. On January 5, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna nodded to the Central Vista project by a 2:1 majority.
The plea says, “The construction of the project cannot be equated to an essential activity. There is no exigency in the project’s construction and there is no reason the same cannot be suspended at a time when Delhi is facing an unprecedented health crisis. There is no rational basis to differentiate between workers engaged in the construction of the project and workers engaged in any other construction work. It cannot be stated that the construction is carried out as a part of the project is any more essential than the construction of other public services.”
After this, Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, the petitioner approached to the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, 5 May 2021, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea seeking a stay on the Central Vista project. But on Friday, again directed petitioners to Delhi High Court.
The ones in opposition, who are always ready to oppose anything and everything is taken up by the Central Government, jumped into the issue and started giving their views. But when it comes to their parties or their aides, they seem to be blind, deaf and dumb. An appropriate example is a reconstruction of Manora Amdar Nivas. According to them, Central Vista Project is ‘not important at this point’. They feel that the Central Government is wasting money on the project while the Nation is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Opposition never leaves a stone unturned to create hindrance for the projects taken up by the government. It is very important to meet the deadlines, and the project is being done on a war footing.
Businesses, factories, employment of daily labour in this pandemic situation depend on this project. For the daily labours, it’s like a lifeline, but Mr. Rahul Gandhi, who is known for opposing the ruling government to any extent possible, termed Central Vista Project as a ‘Criminal Wastage’ of money. For him, redevelopment of the power corridor of the country, a new triangular Parliament building, a common Central Secretariat, and the renovation of the three-km-long Rajpath is a ‘criminal wastage.’ It seems that the 51-year-old young and dynamic Indian National Congress leader cannot remember that the plan to reconstruct the Vista was first put into consideration by the UPA government. Now, the Central Government is just ensuring that the redevelopment is completed by India’s 75th Independence Day.
Here is what he tweeted:
Central Vista is criminal wastage.
Put people’s lives at the centre- not your blind arrogance to get a new house!
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 7, 2021
देश को PM आवास नहीं, सांस चाहिए! pic.twitter.com/jvTkm7diBm
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 9, 2021
Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Vadra also attacked Centre and tweeted on Tuesday, “At a time when the people of the country are struggling with a shortage of oxygen, vaccines, hospital beds, medicines, it would be better if the government deploys all resources in saving the lives of the people, instead of building a new house for the PM at Rs 13,000 crore. Such expenses send a message to the public that the priorities of the government are in some other direction.”
From the tweet, she is trying to divert the people, her tweet conveys as if Prime Minister is making a new house for himself at a cost of people’s lives.
जब देश के लोग ऑक्सीजन, वैक्सीन, हॉस्पिटल बेड, दवाओं की कमी से जूझ रहे हैं तब सरकार 13000 करोड़ से पीएम का नया घर बनवाने की बजाए सारे संसाधन लोगों की जान बचाने के काम में डाले तो बेहतर होगा। इस तरह के खर्चों से पब्लिक को मैसेज जाता है कि सरकार की प्राथमिकताएँ किसी और दिशा में हैं। pic.twitter.com/2OylP2ncJ6
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) May 4, 2021
Sitaram Yechury of CPM also attacked the Central Government and termed the idea to continue construction during the pandemic situation as “grotesque”. He tweeted, “This is grotesque. No money for Oxygen and Vaccines as our brothers and sisters die waiting for a hospital bed to be cremated in parking lots BUT Modi will squander public money to feed his megalomaniac vanity. Stop this Crime.”
This is grotesque.
No money for Oxygen and Vaccines as our brothers and sisters die waiting for a hospital bed to be cremated in parking lots BUT
Modi will squander public money to feed his megalomaniac vanity.
Stop this Crime. https://t.co/1Ts2QrYoLR
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) May 3, 2021
On 7 May 2021, Friday, Union Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri lashed out at the opposition for attacking the Central Government on Central Vista redevelopment project. He tweeted a thread of tweets:
Congress’s discourse on Central Vista is bizarre.
Cost of Central Vista is about ₹20,000 crore, over several years.
GoI has allocated nearly twice that amount for vaccination! India’s healthcare budget for just this year was over ₹3 lakh crore. We know our priorities. pic.twitter.com/uNlnxv7s58
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 7, 2021
The Shiv-Sena also followed the crowd. On 8 May 2021, Saturday, Shiv-Sena in its Mouthpiece gave the following statement: “The UNICEF has expressed a fear that there is a threat to the world from India due to the pace at which coronavirus is spreading in the country. It has also appealed that a maximum number of countries should help India in the fight against COVID-19. Bangladesh has sent 10,000 Remdesivir vials, while Bhutan has sent medical oxygen. Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have also offered help to ‘aatmanirbhar’ India. In clear terms, India is surviving on the system created by Nehru-Gandhi. Many poor countries are helping India. Earlier, countries like Pakistan, Rwanda and Congo used to get help from others. But due to the wrong policies of today’s rulers, India is going through that situation now.” It further added, “But while poor countries are helping India in their way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not ready to stop the ambitious project of Central Vista worth Rs 20,000 crore.”
Shiv-Sena also expressed surprise stating, “nobody feels regret that on one hand, India accepts aid from countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, while on the other, Mr. Modi is not ready to stop work on the multi-crore Central Vista project for the construction of a new Parliament building and the house of the Prime minister.” The Sena added that even as the world is battling a second wave of COVID-19, experts have predicted that the third wave will be more severe. But the ruling BJP is doing all it can to corner Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal even today.”
“A sensitive and a nationalist government would not have thought about the political pros and cons and set up a national panel of all main political parties to discuss ways to defeat the pandemic” the Uddhav led government stated. “We have left USA and Brazil behind in terms of deaths due to virus. The world fears India now,” the Sena said.
According to Shiv-Sena, several countries have stopped their citizens from travelling to India and our country is bearing the economic brunt of the pandemic. “The country is presently surviving thanks to the development works, projects set up by and the confidence given by the previous governments of Pandit Nehru, (Lal Bahadur) Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao, Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister will have to do a lot of hard work and think of non-political nationalism to help the country come out of the pandemic” it added.
Shiv-Sena attacked the Central Government but forgot that something extremely obnoxious is going on in the state of Maharashtra. The MVA – a coalition of NCP, INC and Shiv-Sena who is targeting the Central Government for Central Vista Project, has just passed a tender of 900 crores to reconstruct Manora Amdar Nivasa and build accommodation for MLAs. This is the same project which was given to NBCC for 400 crores.
After coming to the power, the MVA has reportedly cancelled many important decisions taken up during the previous BJP-Shiv Sena Government. One of those decisions is a reconstruction of Manora Amdar Nivas. During the BJP-Shiv Sena Government in 2017, the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), which comes under Central Government, got a contract of Rs. 400 to reconstruct Manora Amdar Nivas at Nirman Point in Mumbai. After Udhhav Thakrey-led MVA came in power, it cancelled that contract and allotted it to Public Works Department for 900 crores. Ignoring the absurd and surprising spike of 500 crores, they are busy targeting the Central Government.
Maharashtra is the most affected state in the Country due to Pandemic. The state government is not able to handle the situation. This is the same MVA government that could not meet the deadline of vaccination till 1st May. When it came to purchasing the vaccines, the MVA said that it does not have the money to buy the vaccines, and on the other hand they are building a lavish MLA quarter for 900 crores.
Central Government on September 13, 2019, announced the Central Vista project which aims at the redevelopment of 86 acres of land in the National Capital. It includes important and historical structures like Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament, India Gate, North Block, and South Block. To top it, the three km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate will also be revamped. Numerous government buildings in this area shall be abolished paving the way for a new Parliament building, a common secretariat for Central government offices, the Prime Minister’s Office and residence, SPG building, and the Vice President enclave.
Likely to be constructed by August 2022 when India celebrates its 75th Independence Day, the new Parliament building will have a triangular shape with a seating capacity for 900-1200 MPs.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author