‘Agenda of spreading lies’: PM Modi hits out at critics of Central Vista revamp

Modi made the comments during the inauguration of defence office complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue that will together accommodate more than 7,000 defence officials
PM Modi, accompanied by defence minister Rajnath Singh and housing & urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, at the new defence office complex at KG Marg on Thursday. (ANI)
PM Modi, accompanied by defence minister Rajnath Singh and housing & urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, at the new defence office complex at KG Marg on Thursday. (ANI)
Updated on Sep 17, 2021 04:56 AM IST
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By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday took a dig at critics of the ambitious Central Vista revamp plan, saying that they are likely to ignore the good coming out of the project because their agenda is only to spread lies about what the government is doing.

Modi’s comments came during the inauguration of defence office complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue that will together accommodate more than 7,000 defence officials.

These officials are moving into the new offices from their decades-old workplaces in a clutch of pre-Independence era hutments in the vicinity of the North and South Blocks to make way for the Central Vista revamp. Some of these hutments served as barracks and as stables for British Army horses more than 75 years ago.

“Those people who are forcefully opposing the Central Vista project will very cleverly stay quiet on this aspect of project that offices have been created for 7,000 defence officials, because they know that their agenda of spreading lies will be exposed. But today the country is seeing what we are doing under the project,” the PM said.

The total cost of the Central Vista revamp is estimated to be around 20,000 crore. The redevelopment has been criticised by the Opposition as wasteful expenditure at a time when the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing a gathering of defence officials at the Africa Avenue complex, the PM said that with the inauguration of the two complexes, India has taken another step in developing the nation’s capital according to the needs and aspirations of a new India in the country’s 75th year of India’s independence.

He said that for decades, defence-related work was being carried out from hutments constructed during the Second World War to serve as stables and barracks. “This new defence office complex will strengthen the efforts of making the working of our defence forces convenient and effective,” he said.

He said work on the two complexes has been completed way ahead of time --- it was to be completed in 24 months but took only 12 months.

“When policies and intentions are clear, willpower is strong and efforts honest, everything is possible,” the PM said, adding that modern infrastructure played an important role in ease of living and ease of doing business. “The ongoing construction work of Central Vista is going on with this thought only,” he said.

Optimal use of available land with various departments of the government was a priority, he said.

The complex at Africa Avenue is spread across four blocks and offers a space of 5.08 lakh square feet while the KG Marg facility has three blocks and an office area of 4.52 lakh square feet.

The new office complexes have been constructed at a cost of 775 crore provided by the defence ministry, with the work carried out by the ministry of housing and urban affairs as part of the Central Vista project. The two complexes together have parking space for 1,500 cars.

According to the Central Vista plan approved by the Centre, the North and South Block office complexes will be turned into national museums, the Indira Gandhi National Centre will be relocated, and the National Archives will be remodelled. The Prime Minister’s residence will be shifted behind the existing South Block complex while the residence of the Vice President is proposed to be relocated behind North Block.

HT on June 30 reported the vice president’s enclave and the new Parliament House will be the first buildings to be completed, and work on shifting the national museum to the North and South Block will commence last, in the elaborate plan for the Central Vista revamp that requires moving people and offices over the course of the next six years.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021