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Central Vista Project : Government's House or People's Lives?

Amid a sudden surge in the covid cases and the numerous death being reported every hour, the Central Vista project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to build the new official quarters for the government is now in action. And like every other project of the NDA government, this project has also been facing major backlash.

The Central Vista Project was announced in September 2019 and is planned to be completed by the year 2024. The project includes the remodelling and redevelopment of the Central Vista, India's central administrative area located near Raisina Hill, New Delhi and the budget for the project can be accounted for upto 200 bn rupees. The programme includes making of new homes for the Vice President, house of the Prime Minister, multi-storeyed office blocks, a new parliament building which will have the capacity of 1272 members in House of Parliament, of which 888 will be in Lok Sabha and 384 in Rajya Sabha.

With the development of the project in the past few months, there have been different rumours and confusions in the mind of the people if this project means the demolition of the previous government buildings across the Rajpath. To answer the confusion, the programme does not include the demolition of any heritage buildings but only of less important and non-heritage building built around the 1960s knows as " Bhawan ".These buildings due to the passage of time have now become old and tarnished and can not function as a government office. The other buildings which are considered as a heritage will just cease to function as offices and will be changed to museums and other such places which will be open to the public.

The Government addressing the press says, "The project will be a major boost to the economy".The project suddenly started to face difficulties, other than media other parties backlashing, when petitions were filed in the court on various grounds such as violation of statutory and municipal laws, environmental nods and destruction of public buildings. But the problems for the dream project of PM came to an end when Supreme Court gave its verdict in the favour of the project.

On January 5,2021 Supreme Court with a 2:1 ratio gave clearance to the Project citing that there were "no infirmities"  in any of the clearances that were granted for the project. Sanjeev Khanna was the only justice who voted against the verdict in the bench of 3 justice. He said that the Heritage committee was not taken into consideration as well destroying such heritage structure is against New Delhi Development Act. After the decision was taken, the Bench also made it clear in a statement that such decisions were not for them to be made but for the executive and by not bringing such cases, the apex of the judicial system can use its time in more important constitutional cases for which the judicial system was made.

Though judicially the government won in its fight for the Project construction, it faced major criticism from the opposing parties and people. Rahul Gandhi, the head of the opposing party termed the project as " criminal wastage".Shiva Sena issued a statement saying," while smaller countries in the neighbourhood are offering help to India to tackle Covid19, Modi government is not even ready to stop the work of ambitious Central Vista Project.

Indian population took to social media after the foundation was laid on Dec 10, 2020, mocking this project as "Mungerilal ke haseen sapne" (referencing PM's plan to a popular show character). A group of scholars also wrote an open letter to the government criticising the project and said it to be an extravagant waste of resources that could rather have been used to save lives. 

The project may create a lot of revenue and labour and may even boost the economy but the timing at which the project is taking place has created a lot of questions about the working and planning of the Prime Minister. With so much ongoing criticism for various other acts and projects of the government, this particular project at a time of a grave crisis where people are dying in a large number has questioned the image of PM Modi's nationalist ideals. BBC even wrote an article about the project with the headline, "Central Vista: Does Indian PM Modi need a new house ". If the Project is important or not it's a topic of another time but is it necessary to start this project now, the current condition of the pandemic stricken India very well answers the question.

Tags: pm modi central vista

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