A false narrative is being circulated over the Central Vista project, Union Minister Hardeep Puri said today, asserting that “no heritage building would be touched” and that a new Parliament Building was a “necessity”, not a vanity project.
Mr Puri also said no design had been cleared for a new Prime Minister’s residence and only two projects – the Parliament building and the widening of the central vista stretch – were under way.
The “Centra Vista” and “Centra Vista Avenue” were being freely interchanged, the minister said.
He also said the decision to construct a new Parliament building was taken in 2012, when the Congress was in power.
The Parliament building is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 862 crores and the Central Vista Avenue at Rs. 477 crores. “The total cost of the project construction currently underway is around 1300 odd crores… We want to finish the new Parliament building by 2022 to mark 75 years of independence,” Mr Puri told reporters.
He also asserted that this was “not a vanity project but a necessary project” as the current building was in a seismic zone.
A new Prime Minister’s residence complex, a new parliament building and new headquarters for various ministries are part of a massive makeover plan for central Delhi, home to historic buildings designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens.
The plan has provoked a huge outcry among opposition parties and on social media over objections ranging from the impact on Delhi’s green cover to destroying Delhi’s most historically significant landmarks.
Earlier, Mr Puri tweeted in response to a Times of India report that said work on the PM’s residence would start in August. Calling the report “amusing”, he clarified: “Conceptual designs of PM Residence have still not been presented to the Ministry. Further, before construction starts, the design has to be finalised, approved and works have to be awarded after tendering.”
The Delhi High Court today dismissed a fresh challenge to the redevelopment project and fined the petitioner ₹ 1 lakh, describing as “motivated” a petition that asked for construction to be stopped as workers were exposed to Covid. The centre had argued in court that the petition was “sheer abuse of the process of law”, and yet another attempt to block the project.
No question arises of suspending construction work as “the labourers are staying at the site”, the High Court said.
The contract given to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group says the construction has to be completed by November and it should to be allowed to continue, the court said.