The Delhi government on Wednesday said that it will issue notices to the Centre for continuing work on the Central Vista project despite a temporary ban on most construction activities in the Capital, PTI reported.

“We had been receiving a lot of calls regarding work being carried out at the Central Vista project site despite a ban on construction and demolition activities,” said Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai. “During an inspection, we found that it was indeed true.”

Delhi and its neighbouring areas have been grappling with poor air quality since Diwali. The air pollution has resulted in restrictions on traffic movement and construction activities and shutting down of schools in the national capital.

Last week, the Supreme Court had re-imposed the ban on construction activities in Delhi in the light of rising pollution levels after it was revoked by the Commission for Air Quality Management on November 22.

The Central Board of Pollution Control on Tuesday said that Delhi’s air in November was the worst in six years.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government said it will ask the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to issue a notice to the Central Public Works Department, asking the reason behind the ongoing construction at the Central Vista project site despite the ban.

The 20,000-crore Central Vista project will redevelop a stretch at the heart of Lutyens Delhi. A sum of Rs 971 crore will be spent on a new Parliament building, while Rs 13,450 crore will be for new residences of the prime minister and the vice president.

On Saturday, it was reported that the Centre had formed a panel to ensure that the project was completed by the 2026 deadline.

The Central Vista has been described by the Opposition as a vanity project of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The project has also been challenged in courts.

In May, a petition had been filed in the Delhi High Court, saying that the project was not an essential activity and could be put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the High Court had dismissed the plea.

Central Vista project of national importance: Centre tells SC

Meanwhile, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the Central Vista project and the construction of a new Parliament building was of national importance, reported Live Law.

The government made the statement in an affidavit after the court asked the Centre and state governments on Monday to submit a compliance report on the directions issued by Commission for Air Quality Management before the next hearing to be held on Thursday.

In its May order, the Delhi High Court had also held that the project was of national importance.

In its affidavit before the Supreme Court, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said that projects of national importance were exempt from the construction ban imposed by the air quality commission.

It said that the government was in compliance with the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules which “includes measures like use of anti-smog gun, mist spray system, use of dust suppressant like magnesium chloride, use of conveyor belt to transfer construction material, keeping all construction material in wet condition etc”.

The affidavit also said that construction work was underway at metro, railways, airports and Inter State Bus Terminals. It said that all other construction work undertaken by the Central Public Works Department have been halted, reported Bar and Bench.

The ministry also submitted that it was willing to submit additional details of the measures it has taken to control pollution at the Central Vista site if the court wanted.