The Centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to give a go-ahead to the Central Vista project even as the Opposition, including the Congress, criticised the order.
Reacting to the court’s decision, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said the Parliament building will make Delhi a “world-class” capital city. “Delhi is on course to becoming a World Class capital city and in the first step by the time nation completes 75 years of its Independence in 2022 a new Parliament building will be ready reflecting the aspirations of new India,” he said.
In another tweet, the Union minister pointed out that the central government has been “sensitive to environmental concerns” and will continue to adhere to the highest standards during the construction. Petitions were filed challenging the project over alleged violation of environmental and land-use rules. The court, however, rejected them, noting that the environmental clearances granted to the project by the Ministry of Environment were valid and proper.
Former Chief Minister of Jharkhand Babulal Marandi said that it would be a “tough day ahead for liberals” as he welcomed Supreme Court’s decision on the project.
“Supreme Court gave a go-ahead to the redevelopment plan of the Central Vista project,” he tweeted. “Bill Gates praised India’s ‘leadership in scientific innovation’, when opposition is busy attacking approval of Covid-19 vaccines.”
On the other hand, Congress leader Randeep Singh Sujewala said that the project was not a legal matter but case of “misplaced priorities”.
“The ₹13,450 crore Central Vista Project is not a legalistic issue but a case of ‘misplaced priorities’ of a ‘whimsical autocrat’ seeking to etch his name in the annals of history with cement & mortar,” he said in a series of tweets.
He said that it was “ironical” that the Centre has Rs 14,000 crore for the project and Rs 8,000 crore for buying aircraft for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the times of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic recession. “But the same BJP Govt imposes cuts of ₹37,530 CR in allowances of 113 Lakh Armed Forces & Central Govt Employees & Pensioners,” he tweeted.
The Congress leader also pointed out that the prime minister had imposed cuts of Rs 11,000 crore on 15 lakh soldiers and 26 lakh military pensioners. “And the same BJP Govt at Centre has no time to provide ‘heated tents and equipment’ to our soldiers braving brazen Chinese incursions in Ladakh,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Shama Mohamed called the project a “travesty”. “It is a travesty that when the govt’s priority should have been to vaccinate every Indian as soon as possible, it prefers to splurge taxpayer money on a Rs 20,000 crore vanity project which won’t benefit the common man in the slightest!” she tweeted.
Twitter users also lauded Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who had disagreed from the rest on the three-judge bench on the matter of land use. He noted that there was no disclosure for public participation on the matter.
“No surprise, given its recent track record that the SC upholds the 14K Crore Central Vista redevelopment project!” tweeted lawyer Prashant Bhushan. “Kudos to Justice Sanjiv Khanna for his dissent on change of land use.”
Satirist Akash Banerjee tweeted that Sanjiv Khanna’s uncle, HR Khanna, would be proud of him. His tweet was accompanied by a news article that recalled how HR Khanna had stood up to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi before the Emergency was imposed in 1975.
The Rs 20,000-crore Central Vista project seeks to redevelop government buildings situated on the three-km stretch in Delhi that runs from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. A new Parliament house is at the heart of the project.
The Supreme Court, during a hearing on December 7, had directed the Centre not to undertake any construction or demolition for the project after the foundation stone-laying ceremony. The court also rebuked the government for “moving forward aggressively” on the project even before a decision was given on the petitions challenging it.