With the health system collapsing with the rising COVID cases in Delhi, one project remains unaffected: the Central Vista project. In a week, the national capital has seen over 2,267 people die of the virus with many due to the oxygen shortage and beds not available.
The ambitious project of the Narendra Modi government construction began in January and the Central Public Works Department is executing this project. The redevelopment project of the Central Vista — the nation’s power corridor — envisages a new triangular Parliament building, a common central secretariat and revamping of the three-km-long Rajpath, from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
The total cost of this project is Rs 20,000 crore. Apart from the Parliament building, the project will also revamp the Central Vista Avenue, while the work on the new Secretariat buildings is yet to start.
Meanwhile, the redevelopment work continues even as the national capital shuts down for another week.
As per the guidelines, the construction projects have workers staying on the site are permitted to operate in Delhi. But an exception has been made for the Central Vista project, which has been declared an “essential service”, government correspondence accessed by Scroll.in shows.
As per the report, on April 16, the Central Public Works Department wrote to the Delhi Police saying that “of time bound nature and is to be completed before 30th November, 2021”, and therefore, the company had been directed to carry out the work “during all three shifts”.
In the letter, CPWD requested the police to allow the company to “ferry their workers to and fro from their labour camp at Sarai Kale Khan through their own buses during curfew period”.
On April 19 when the capital went into a week lockdown, the deputy commissioner of police for New Delhi district issued movement passes for 180 vehicles engaged in the project work to operate during the lockdown. The deputy commissioner’s letter also stated that the movement passes had been granted in the “essential services” category.
A spokesperson of the Central Public Works Department told the daily, “We have made limited arrangements for stay of labour at site and also got permission for movement of labour from labour camps.”
This ambitious project of the running government has been criticised from day 1. The SC in December was hearing a batch of petitions against the mega project concerning violation of environmental norms and possible destruction of heritage structures, among others. With the country is battling with a serious pandemic, the amount the government is spending on the Central Vista project would have been enough to build thousands of oxygen generation plants.
Recently, the CPWD invited bids for the construction of three buildings on the plot where the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts currently stands. On which, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questioned the government’s priority in going ahead with the central vista project in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Meanwhile, the national capital recorded the highest single-day rise in its COVID-19 death toll with 380 more people succumbing to the infection on Monday, while the positivity rate stood at over 35 percent, according to the latest bulletin issued by the city health department.
This is the fifth day on the trot that Delhi has recorded over 300 deaths due to coronavirus.
It had reported 350 fatalities on Sunday, 357 deaths, the highest before Monday's figure since the pandemic began a year ago, on Saturday, 348 on Friday and 306 on Thursday, according to government data.
Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.