‘Heritage structures won’t be razed, rumours being spread’: Hardeep Singh Puri

Updated on Jun 01, 2021 07:18 AM IST

Describing the Central Vista project as “vital and essential”, the Delhi high court on Monday allowed work on the project to continue and imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh on the petitioners for their “motivated” plea.

Some activists and civil society members have criticised the move to continue the redevelopment project when the country is facing a pandemic.(HT Photo)
Some activists and civil society members have criticised the move to continue the redevelopment project when the country is facing a pandemic.(HT Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday said that a false narrative was being propagated about the Central Vista project, while referring to criticism over the Union government’s decision to go ahead with the project during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that no heritage structure will be demolished for the project.

Describing the Central Vista project as “vital and essential”, the Delhi high court on Monday allowed work on the project to continue and imposed a fine of 1 lakh on the petitioners for their “motivated” plea.

“A false narrative is being propagated… It is being called a vanity project and that it is not required… Some say 20,000 crore is being spent...during the pandemic. Where are these figures coming from?” Puri said at a news briefing.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, however, criticised the government’s priorities and said: “What is more important? Increasing the capacity of hospitals? Giving vaccines to every Indian? Providing a steady supply of oxygen to hospitals? Providing required number of ventilators to hospitals? Or is constructing a Modi Mahal more important?”

Also read: Vista project essential, says HC, junks plea to halt work

Some activists and civil society members have criticised the move to continue the redevelopment project when the country is facing a pandemic.

Puri said: “The central government has allocated 35,000 crore for the vaccination programme... There is no shortage of funds… If more money is required, then the finance minister will make arrangements.”

The minister said that work on only the new Parliament building and the redevelopment of the Central Vista avenue has started so far and the total cost of the two projects is 1,339 crore.

Under the 14,000-crore (approximate figure) Central Vista redevelopment project, a new Parliament building, 10 common central secretariat buildings to house 51 ministries, and new residences for the Vice President and the Prime Minister are proposed.

Puri said that construction work was going on at several locations in Delhi. Referring to the matter raised by social activists, Puri said: “Will the contractor pay these workers (if the work is halted)? Conventional wisdom says that when you are faced with a challenge, then you spend your way out of it.”

Housing and urban affairs secretary Durga Shankar Mishra said that all Covid-19 protocols are being followed at the construction sites, and arrangements have been made to vaccinate them. Of the 1,300 workers on site, close to 900 have been vaccinated, said Mishra.

The minister hit out at Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders opposing the project. Criticising the Congress for calling it “Modi Mahal”, Puri said: “It is not a vanity project, but a necessity. It is living testimony to the incompetence of the party which was in governance for nearly seven decades.”

He also criticised an open letter written by some retired bureaucrats to PM Narendra Modi, urging that the project be stopped. “They have said in their letter that...the new Parliament building is being constructed because of a superstitious belief that the old building is unlucky. They are educated fools...”

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Monday, September 26, 2022
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