Hardeep Singh Puri, minister of housing and urban affairs, today lashed out at those opposing the Central Vista project amid the Covid pandemic. From the estimated cost of the project to the clearances it has secured, Puri presented the government’s stand on wide-ranging issues that have been discussed across platforms.
While the cost of the entire project, to be completed in three phases, has been estimated by various quarters at Rs 20,000 crore, Puri said no such assessment has yet been done by the government. “We have not yet ascertained the total cost of the project. The figures that are making the rounds are surely incorrect. So far, only two projects have been tendered, which will cost a little over Rs 1,300 crore”, he said.
So far, tenders for construction of a new Parliament building and the central vista avenue have been flouted and projects have been awarded. While the Parliament building will cost Rs 862 crore, the cost of renovating the central vista avenue – a three kilometre stretch between Raisina Hills and India Gate – is pegged at Rs 477 crore.
“It was being said that it’s a vanity project for which the government is spending Rs 20,000 crore during a pandemic. Further, some have alleged that an Rs 13,000 crore ‘Modi-Mahal’ is being constructed. Not only are these figures arbitrary but also misleading as the prime minister’s residence is not only for the current PM but will be used by any future prime minister of the country”, he said.
Further, according to him, the plan of the PM’s residence is not yet ready. “So how come the opposition is saying that construction of the PM’s residence will begin from August”, he added.
Highlighting the importance of the massive redevelopment project, Puri said the project will be the governance architecture of India for the next 250-300 years. As an overhaul in delimitation is due in 2026, when the number of representatives at Parliament will be reassessed, the requirement for a larger building with more seating capacity for Members of Parliament will be required.
Apart from opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Jairam Ramesh from the Indian National Congress, nearly 60 retired IAS and IPS officers had written an open letter to the PM and Puri opposing the project. Today, Puri lashed out at them, alleging that their move was “motivated with ill-intentions”.
The group of retired bureaucrats had urged the government to stop the project as “construction and redesign on the scale planned in the redevelopment project will significantly affect the heritage nature of this precinct, and destroy it irrevocably.”
According to Puri, the government has not yet taken any call on whether to demolish any heritage buildings in the area.