In reply to the opposition’s charge that ₹20,000 crores are being spent on the Central Vista project this year during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre said that the redevelopment plan was envisaged in 2019, many months before the outbreak of the pandemic.
On Saturday, the union ministry released a document to clear the rumors around the Central Vista project, which has been used by the opposition Congress party to attack the government.
The union minister of housing and urban affairs, Hardeep Singh in a press release talked about the funds for the project, environmental issues, and other factors related to it.
While talking about the project, the ministry said that it is a generational infrastructure investment project, involving multiple projects spread over six years span. It also mentioned that ₹20,000 crores are just a gross rough estimate of all the planned development/redevelopment works.
It also explained that to date, only 2 projects of Redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue with tendered cost ₹477 and New Parliament Building with tendered cost ₹862 crores have been awarded and whose works are underway. While the budget provision for 2021-22 is ₹790 crore, expenditure incurred on these 2 projects till March 2021 is ₹195 crore.
It also criticized the reports that ₹13,450 crores are being incurred on Prime Minister’s new house. This rough estimate covers multiple projects, including 10 buildings. Also adding that the construction work for the Prime Minister’s residence has not yet been tendered and no sanction has been accorded by the government, the ministry said that the news has been mischievously exaggerated in media.
Further, the ministry also dismissed the charge of using funds in the Central Vista project instead of public healthcare and Covid-19 response. In the Union Budget 2020-21, there was a 137% increase from the previous year’s budget estimate in allocation for public healthcare and well-being expenditure pointed out by the ministry.
From the annual allocation, ₹35,000 crores have been allocated as a one-time grant towards Covid-19 vaccination. Thus, the one-time amount for vaccination for FY 2021-22 is 175% more than the total budget for the Central Vista project, which is expected to be completed by 2026.
The Central ministry justified the ongoing project site work by saying that stopping the work at this stage will entail creating liabilities for the government under the existing contracts and the workers’ interest.
On May 31, the Delhi High Court had dismissed a plea against the ongoing construction activities of the Central Vista Redevelopment project while terming the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) as an “illegal motive” to stop the ongoing construction work.
It was also promised that none of the heritage buildings – India Gate, Parliament, North & South Blocks, National Archives, or any other – will be demolished. Since these heritage buildings are under severe stress and in need of comprehensive up-gradation, those that fall under the scope of the Central Vista development/redevelopment project will be appropriately retrofitted, as per Heritage Conservation standards, and refurbished for their future use.
The redevelopment project of the Central Vista – being handled by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs – includes a new triangular Parliament building, a common Central Secretariat and the refurbishing of the three-km-long Rajpath from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate and also new residences for the prime minister and the vice president.