Modi’s dream ‘Central Vista’ project faces serious questions as covid cases surge

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Onlooker desk: While the country reels under the second wave of coronavirus, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is continuing with a Rs 180 crore parliamentary revamp project. This will also include a new home for the PM. There is shortage of beds, oxygen supply is limited, and people are dying due to insufficient health infrastructure.
In such a situation, the decision to continue with the project in capital, New Delhi, has infuriated the public and opposition parties. They have raised questions about spending millions into a construction project when the country is fighting its worst-ever public health crisis.
However, defying all sorts of opposition, the renovation, known as the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, has been marked as an ‘essential service’. Therefore, its construction is allowed to go on even when other projects have been halted.
Two citizens, both covid positive, lodged a case with the Delhi High Court on Wednesday trying to halt the construction. While the capital city is following stringent measures to stop the spread, construction work has gone on. The petitioners argue that the project is not an essential service and construction work might become a super-spreader.
The Delhi High Court offered to hear the case later this month. However, the petitioners took the matter to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court on Friday observed that the Covid-19 situation is “very serious”, as it requested the Delhi high court to consider hearing the plea urgently.
India has reported more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths in each of the past few days. For the last two days, death count has been nearly 4,000 per day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the country accounted for a quarter of global coro fatalities over the past week. Quite understandably questions have been raised about the urgency of such a ‘vanity project’ at such time.
Last December, at the building’s foundation stone laying ceremony, Modi said, ‘The launch of the construction of the Parliament House of India, with the idea of Indianness by Indians, is one of the most important milestones of our democratic traditions. We the people of India will construct this new Parliament building together.’
However, a large section of people of the country and opposition parties did not take Modi’s ‘Indianness’ comment very heartily. From Rahul Gandhi to Yashwant Sinha, Sitaram Yechuri raised questions about the PM’s priority of work. Yechuri even called the move ‘grotesque’.
However, On Friday Supreme Court said – Since the matter (postponement of the Central Vista construction work), is pending before the High Court and the appeal is against the order of adjournment, we are not inclined to enter into the merits of the case. In the given circumstance, we request Shri Sidharth Luthra (petitioner’s lawyer) or any other counsel to make request before the Chief Justice of High Court on Monday to take up the matter as urgently as possible. We hope and trust that high court shall consider the prayer for early hearing.

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