PIL against Central Vista: Centre bats in favour of construction; court adjourns matter for tomorrow

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May 11, 2021 2:42 PM

The Central Vista project envisages constructing a new Parliament House, a new residential complex that will house the Prime Minister and the Vice-President, as well as several new office buildings.

Central Vista PILThe Centre claimed that a COVID compliant facility was installed at the Central Vista project worksite to accommodate the 250 workers who had expressed their willingness to stay put and continue the construction work.

Amid the Opposition continuously raising the Central Vista issue and a PIL in the Delhi High Court against the ongoing construction, the Centre today submitted in the court a detailed affidavit stating various measures taken at the site as it batted in favour of letting the construction work continue. The centre submitted in the court that currently, the work is going on for providing public amenities like toilet blocks, paths, parking space, four pedestrian underpasses below Janpath and C-Hexagon Road, improvement of canals, bridges, lawns, lights etc and no work related to Parliament building is being carried out, reported the Bar and Bench.

The Centre also submitted that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has permitted construction activities, during the prevailing curfew, where the labourers are residing on-site. The Centre claimed that a COVID compliant facility was installed at the worksite to accommodate the 250 workers who had expressed their willingness to stay put and continue the construction work. It maintained that COVID protocol including adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour, such as sanitization, thermal screening, physical/social distancing and masking are strictly being followed at the worksite.

It said that a dedicated medical facility has been set up at the work site where the workers will have access to immediate medical attention and proper care which would otherwise have been extremely difficult, in these unprecedented times considering the burden on our existing medical infrastructure.

The Centre claimed in its affidavit that the PIL is just another attempt to stall the project which has been facing such attempts from the beginning on one pretext or another. It said that while the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Public Works Department (PWD) etc are also engaged in construction activities across Delhi, the petitioner has overlooked those projects. “The very fact that out of all these construction activities going on simultaneously for different projects by different agencies, the petitioner has chosen to be a public-spirited citizen only concerning one project speaks volumes about his intentions and motive behind filing the present petition,” the Centre said.

The petitioners Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi have sought to halt the construction contending that there was no rationale for classifying the Central Vista Project as an essential service.

The high court on May 4 had adjourned the matter to May 17 saying it first wants to study the apex court’s January 5 judgement. The petitioners had then moved to the Supreme Court. While the apex court had declined to interfere in the matter as the issue was pending before the high court, it had asked the petitioners to approach Delhi High Court for getting an early date of hearing. When the case came up for hearing today, it was adjourned for tomorrow since the Centre’s reply was not on record.

The project entails construction activity on Rajpath and the surrounding lawns from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhawan, said the plea, filed through advocates Gautam Khazanchi and Pradyuman Kaistha. The project envisages constructing a new Parliament House, a new residential complex that will house the Prime Minister and the Vice-President, as well as several new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate Ministry offices.

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