Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ahead of the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Central Vista project in New Delhi, PTI reported. The ceremony for the new Parliament building will take place on Thursday.

In a short letter to Modi, the chief minister said the project was “long overdue” as the existing government infrastructure in the national Capital was inadequate and associated with the country’s colonial past.

“I join you with a sense of pride on the occasion of laying of the foundation stone for the grand project of Central Vista,” Rao, popularly known as KCR, wrote in his letter. “The new Central Vista project will be a symbol of self-esteem, prestige and national pride of a resurgent, confident and strong India. I wish for the speedy completion of this prestigious and nationally important project.”

Opposition parties and former civil servants have severely criticised the Narendra Modi government for not cutting down on “luxuries” like the Central Vista project amid the coronavirus crisis. The Rs 20,000-crore venture aims to build a new Parliament and other central government offices in Lutyens’ Delhi. The government has justified its decision to build a new Parliament building, saying that the current one was “showing signs of distress and over-use”.

It has also been challenged in the Supreme Court, with petitioners opposing the proposed change in land usage of the Central Vista, the iconic boulevard of approximately 3.5 km from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, and further to the National Stadium. They have argued that it is a symbol of India’s historic past, its nationhood, its vibrant democracy.

On Monday, a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, had expressed displeasure with the Centre for “aggressively” continuing with the construction, demolition and shifting of trees even as questions concerning the legality of the Central Vista project were being heard in the court. He, however, allowed the foundation stone laying ceremony to go ahead as scheduled.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had assured that no physical changes would be made to the area. “We thought we are dealing with a prudent litigant and deference will be shown,” the court had told Mehta. “We have shown deference to you and expected that you will act in a prudent manner. The same deference should be shown to the court and there should be no demolition or construction.”