The Central Vista project is at a halt now due to the pandemic but there still lies a question about the necessity of the project.
Central Vista includes the construction of new Parliament, common secretariat, and revamping 3 km long Rajpath. The new Parliament building will cost approximately 971 crores. Nirman Bhawan and Vigyan Bhavan are among those buildings which would be demolished. It envisages restoring the grandeur and add modern facilities.
The whole project costs around Rs. 20,000 crores. There will be a reconstruction of the North and South blocks of Central Delhi bringing the ministries under one roof. Some of the reasons put forth by the government were:
1. A new Parliament will develop interdepartmental coordination which wasn’t earlier because the offices were in different locations
2. Most of the buildings of Vista have outlived their structural lives.
3. Government highlighted the need for inadequate infrastructure in the existing Parliament building.
Since the announcement of the plan to revamp, there have been a number of petitions and outrage regarding it.
Various petitions have been filed like the one by Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi who were concerned with the construction activity that was going on which would pose a threat to the workers at construction sites given the upsurge in the number of Covid cases.
On January 5th, a bench consisting of Justice AM Khankiwar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, and Justice Sanjeev Khanna allowed green chit to the Vista project by 2:1, where justice Khanna was in dissent of the verdict.
There was no proper information to the public regarding the project. There were no debates in the Parliament or discussions regarding this project. India being a participatory democracy, there should be enough discussion and details should be given out in public. To this, the government said that it would not have been possible to keep this project out to public debate given the population of the country.
There was not much knowledge available for the bidding process as well. Another issue was the constant haste with which the project was being carried out amidst the situation of the country with no transparency.
Various experts are of the opinion that the Central Vista Project will lead to the loss of many heritage sites. On 10th May there was a Twitter storm where numerous activists protested against the project by using hashtags like #CentralVista not essential.
In a country that is facing a catastrophic second wave where the economy and health infrastructure are not very stable and there is a dearth of oxygen, vaccines, the prime concern should be to revamp this instead of Central Vista. Even if it is required, it should not be carried out in haste. The government has put a halt to the project which it should have done earlier. It should be carried on later with public consultations and the focus now should be on the escalating health crisis and ways to revamp it.