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We ‘Murkhs’ Have Run Office Too: Jawhar Sircar Slams Hardeep Puri

“Tell us the truth about the cost of Central Vista,” Jawhar Sircar said in response to Hardeep Singh Puri’s jibe.

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On 31 May, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri responded harshly to an open letter penned by retired civil servants, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the Central Vista project.

In a press conference he referred to the group of former civil servants, including Julio Rebeiro, Jawhar Sircar, Harsh Mander, among others, as “padhe likhe murkh (educated fools)”.

“These former bureaucrats, many of whom are from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, have said in their letter that if reports are to be believed, the new Parliament building is being constructed because of superstitious beliefs that the old building is unlucky…, yeh padhe likhe murkh hi nahin hain, they are a disgrace (they are not only educated fools, they are a disgrace),” he said.

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In response to Puri’s words, Jawhar Sircar, who is the former CEO of Prasar Bharati, said,

“He has branded all of us as murkhs (fools), but let me tell you why exactly are we fools. We are fools because we really don’t know what you’re up to and why you’re up to it. There’s not a single white paper on the Central Vista. It’s a completely convoluted project. At least have the guts to come out transparently and tell us what you are up to, how many years will it take and what is the total cost.”

“Tell us the truth about the exact cost. You are splitting the cost to this year’s budget, some in the next year’s budget, some in the environment budget. Who are you calling fools? Have some respect. These fools have also run administrations and let me know every degree of over-expenditure will be audited at some point of time[sic.],” Sircar said.

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Since its launch, the Central Vista Project has drawn sharp criticisms from environmentalists, urban planners, historians, citizens, and former civil servants alike for evading public consultation and debates.

The government has also been accused of rushing through the project without heritage and environmental audits. Many also raised concerns about whether it was absolutely imperative to carry on with the construction work through the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the country was battling a severe shortage of hospital beds and medical essentials.

“First of all as a civil servant, I would doubt whether it was absolutely necessary at this juncture,” Sircar said.

“Having said that it was not necessary, the maintenance heritage is of more importance to us. This project is superfluous piece of ego-built architecture,” he added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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