Amid ongoing criticism about the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, the government is attempting to dispel “myths” surrounding the project.
In a document titled “Myths and Realities About the Central Vista Project,” the Centre attempted to clarify issues to do with the expenditure around the project, why a new parliament building is being constructed instead of repairing the existing one and the concerns surrounding the destruction of heritage buildings.
Almost all aspects of the Central Vista project have courted controversy ever since announcement.
And, with the government announcing its intention to wrap up the construction work by December 2022, many have questioned the “mad rush” to complete the project without holding adequate consultations.
Addressing some of these allegations, the government wrote, “Rs 20,000 crore is a gross rough estimate of all the development work... till date, only two projects of the New Parliament Building with tendered cost Rs 862 crore and Redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue with tendered cost of Rs 477 crore have been awarded and works are underway. Expenditure incurred on these two projects till March 2021 is Rs 195 crore and budget provision for 2021-22 is Rs 790 crore."
The document said the actual cost of the other projects will be known after detailed project reports are prepared.
Many have raised questions about the government spending Rs 20,000 crore on the project, at a time when India is facing a severe crisis in the health sector.
Recently, a petition was also filed in the Delhi High Court asking for a temporary halt in the construction work in view of the public health crisis, as the second wave of COVID ravaged India.
Although the petition was quashed, responding to the criticism, the Centre wrote, “Public Health has been a priority of the government which is exemplified in Union Budget 2020-21 where there was a 137 percent increase from previous year's budget estimate... at this point, delaying the construction does not mean that all funds for the project will be diverted to other items.”
The document said, “Further, stopping the work at this state will entail creating liabilities for the government under the existing contracts and the workers’ interest in terms of their livelihoods will be adversely impacted. Also, if the project has to be completed at a later date, with inflation, it will cost a lot more.”
The government also reiterated that India was one of the fastest countries to vaccinate 21 crore of its population, although currently only 3 percent of India’s entire population is fully vaccinated against COVID and only 11 percent have received the first shot.
On concerns of environmental damage and the reduction of green cover in Delhi, the government said, “The projects will result in overall increase in green cover. No trees will be cut in any projects. Strict measures are also being undertaken simultaneously to minimise environmental effects.”
“None of the listed Heritage Buildings in Central Vista will be demolished,” it further stated.