Central Vista: Centre against suspension of work, tells Delhi High Court Covid protocols being strictly adhered

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May 12, 2021 4:25 AM

“While the arrangements for the stay of the workers were being made at the site, permission was sought for transportation of materials and labourers from Sarai Kale Khan camp to the worksite, including permission for the movement of supervisory staff and such permission was valid till April 30,” the Centre told the Delhi HC.

The HC will hear the case on Wednesday.

Opposing any suspension of the work on the construction of the Central Vista project amid a surge in the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central government on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it is just another attempt to stall the proposed multi-crore project, even when all the protocols and guidelines are being strictly adhered to check the spread of any infection.

The “intentions and motive” behind filing of the petition are evident from the fact that the Central Vista redevelopment project has been singled out despite several other agencies, including Delhi Metro, carrying out construction activities across the national capital, the Centre alleged, adding that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority had permitted construction activities, during the prevailing curfew, where the labourers are residing on-site.

The 250 workers, who had expressed their willingness to stay put and continue the work, were engaged well before the imposition of curfew on April 19 and a Covid-19 compliant facility installed at the worksite itself provided for strict implementation of protocols and also adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour like sanitization, thermal screening, physical/social distancing and masking, the government stated in its affidavit.

“While the arrangements for the stay of the workers were being made at the site, permission was sought for transportation of materials and labourers from Sarai Kale Khan camp to the worksite, including permission for the movement of supervisory staff and such permission was valid till April 30,” the Centre told the Delhi HC.

Besides, the contractor had provided for health insurance of all the workers against Covid-19 and a separate facility for conducting the RT-PCR test, arrangements for isolation area and medical aid has been provided at the site, the government told the HC.

The affidavit further stated that the scope of work, which is a subject matter of the present petition, is limited to the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue (i.e., both sides of the Rajpath) where Republic Day celebrations are held annually and not the entire Central Vista project which includes Parliament, refurbishment of North Block, South Block, construction of new offices for the central government — common Central Secretariat, central conference facilities, etc.

Instead, the current construction is concerning public spaces visited by people and tourists at Raj Path and includes building public amenities like new toilet blocks, parking spaces, pedestrian underpasses below the C-Hexagon, improvement of canals, bridges, lawns, lights etc.

The petitioners, Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi had sought a halt on the construction due to the Covid-19 situation in the National Capital and the threat posed by the construction work as a potential super spreader.
The HC will hear the case on Wednesday.

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