'False narrative': Hardeep Singh Puri slams criticism on Central Vista project

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Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri (Photo/ANI)
Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri (Photo/ANI)

New Delhi [India], May 31 (ANI): Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday slammed opposition parties for propagating a false narrative over the government's Central Vista project.

"...for the past few months a false narrative is being propagated about the Central Vista project. None of the historic iconic cultural buildings will be touched. They will remain exactly as they are," Puri said addressing a press briefing.

The union minister said that currently two projects were underway -the new Parliament building and the widening of the Central Vista Avenue.

People are freely interchanging the "Centra Vista" and "Centra Vista Avenue", the union minister said.

"Currently, two new projects are underway- the New Parliament Building and Central Vista Avenue. A decision on these projects was taken before the pandemic. The total cost of the project is around Rs 1300 crore," the Union Minister said.

He said the Parliament building is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 862 crore and the Central Vista Avenue at Rs 477 crore.

The minister also pointed out said that in 2012 Meira Kumar's OSD had written to the housing ministry's secretary saying that a decision has been taken to build a new Parliament building.

He also cited a newspaper article written by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in 2012 calling for a new Parliament building.

Puri said the "current Parliament building falls under the seismic zone 4...the building is in in a state beyond redemption so a decision was taken to construct a new building."

Puri assured that the Centre has allotted an adequate amount of money for carrying out the drive. He said, "It is being falsely propagated that Rs 20,000 crores are being spent on the vaccination program. I can assure you that the Centre has allocated Rs 35,000 crores for vaccination. There is no shortage of money for vaccination, there is enough money. The availability of vaccine is another matter."

Puri also slammed the opposition parties by saying that people speak whatever they wish to without being aware of facts. He said, "First of all, where did the Rs 20,000 crore figure come from? People in the opposition parties speak whatever there feel like without proper facts. The Central Vista project will have proper offices for 51 ministries with Metro, New Parliament House, 9 Office Buildings, New Indira Gandhi Center for Performing Arts all under Rs 13,000-15,000 crores."

The minister noted the judgement by Delhi High Court today which dismissed a PIL seeking direction to halt ongoing constriction of the Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment Project and termed it as "motivated petition." He said that the court had also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioner and is not a genuine public interest litigation.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice of Delhi Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh hearing the plea said that the time is the essence and the project has to be completed before November 2021, which is of national interest. The Court also noted that workers are provided with facilities and even Covid-19 behaviour is followed.

On May 7, the Supreme Court had urged the Delhi High Court to consider the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by petitioner Anya Malhotra seeking a stay on construction work of the Central Vista project in New Delhi amid the prevailing condition of coronavirus cases across the country and asked High Court to issue orders related to the matter.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had on May 13 called upon the central government to embark on free vaccination for citizens, saying that Covid-19 cases have spread to all towns and funds marked for the Central Vista project should be also be used in the vaccination drive. He said there is no shortage of money to embark on free vaccination.

Twelve opposition leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin, Hemant Soren and Akhilesh Yadav on May 12 wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi slamming the government over its handling of the Covid-19 situation and demanding free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country, stopping construction of Central Vista project and repeal of three new farm laws.

In December 2020, the Central Vista Development project was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The project intends to revamp 86 acres of land in Delhi, which includes Rajpath, Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block, Shastri Bhavan and Udyog Bhavan.

The project envisages the construction of a new Parliament building, a common secretariat for central government offices, the Prime Minister's office and residence, the Special Protection Group building and the Vice-President Enclave. The construction work for the project is being carried out since January 5, 2021, after the top court dismissed petitions challenging the project. (ANI)

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