'Project of national importance': Delhi High Court junks plea to halt Central Vista
The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking to halt construction work at Central Vista Avenue in the national capital, saying it was a motivated petition. The court said the project was of national importance.
The high court said the Public Interest Litigation or PIL was not genuine and also imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh on the petitioners citing lack of bonafide on their side.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was hearing the plea by Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker, seeking to halt the ongoing part redevelopment of the Central Vista Avenue which includes both sides of Rajpath where Republic Day celebration are held. They contended that the project was not an essential activity and therefore, could be put on hold for now during the coronavirus pandemic.
The bench said that clearance to the project has already been upheld by the Supreme Court. There is no question of suspending the work since the workers are residing at the construction site, the bench said, adding that the work on the project has to be completed in a time-bound manner.
“The whole Central Vista is an essential project of national importance where the sovereign functions of the Parliament will be conducted. The public is widely interested in this project,” it said.
Stating that Covid-19 safety protocols are being followed and there is no reason to stall construction, the court said the workers are staying at the site and all the facilities have been provided to them.
On May 17, the court reserved its order on the plea. The petitioners moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s May 4 order adjourning their plea to May 17. The high court adjourned the matter saying it wanted to study the top court’s January 5 judgment giving a go-ahead to the Central Vista project. The Centre said that the petition is an attempt to halt the project with oblique motives.
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 and a central secretariat to accommodate ministry offices.
The new parliament complex and buildings that are being built as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project will have parking for at least 16,000 cars, and while that may mean a likely increase in traffic volume in the area, enough mitigation measures will be put in place to ensure there is no congestion or impact on traffic movement, the architectural consultant for the project said.
Lutyens’ Delhi’s key roads will need to be upgraded to 4-8 lanes by 2031 to accommodate the growth in traffic, both routine and on account of the Central Vista project, according to a traffic impact analysis.