The construction of the prime minister’s residence under the Central Vista project is likely to be completed by December 2022, reported the Hindustan Times. The project, an initiative of the Narendra Modi government, is underway in the middle of the raging coronavirus pandemic, when most activities have been stopped.

The Opposition has severely criticised the Centra Vista Project as it has been viewed as a vanity project of the Bharatiya Janata Party, especially as India battles a severe health crisis.

The vice president’s new living quarters is likely to be finished by May next year under the project, according to the Central Public Works Department. The prime minister’s current official address is 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, and the vice president resides in 6, Maulana Azad Road, in New Delhi.

The project aims to redevelop a 3.2-km stretch called the Central Vista that lies at the heart of Lutyens Delhi built by the British in the 1930s. It involves tearing down and rebuilding several government buildings, including iconic landmarks, and constructing a new Parliament at a total cost of Rs 20,000 crore.

The Central Public Works Department was made the nodal agency for the project. The announcement came as the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s expert appraisal committee granted the required clearance for the other buildings under this plan. A Common Central Secretariat and a building for the Special Protection Group will also be constructed.

The Union environment ministry’s expert panel had held a meeting on April 13 on the matter, but the details of the meeting was made public on Monday.

The Central Public Works Department’s submission noted that the new Parliament will be constructed by November 2022, according to NDTV.

The stated aim of the project, being supervised under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs, was to to set up a new Parliament by India’s 75th Independence Day next year. The remainder of the project, including construction of 11 administrative buildings, is likely to completed by 2024.

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On September 29, 2020, the Tata Projects Limited was given the responsibility to finish the new Parliament building, reported the Hindustan Times.

At present, only construction projects that have workers staying on-site are permitted to operate in Delhi as per lockdown guidelines. But an exception has been made for the Central Vista project, which has been declared an “essential service”, government correspondence accessed by shows. The restrictions were extended in the Capital on Saturday.

Several opposition parties have severely criticised the project. On April 28, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the Centre for carrying on with the project amid a severe second wave of the coronavirus. This was Gandhi’s second tweet in less than a week criticising the Union government for insisting on the project in spite of the intensifying pandemic situation.

On April 23, the Congress leader had pointed out that the Centre invited bids for a part of the project even as the country faced shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and coronavirus vaccines and tests.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid its foundation stone on December 10.

India on Monday registered 3,68,147 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 19,925,604 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the second consecutive day when the daily infection count dropped after crossing the 4-lakh mark. The toll climbed by 3,417 to 2,18,959.

The country is struggling to keep up with the rising demand of medical oxygen as Covid cases rise. The second wave has led to an unprecedented rise in the demand for beds, ventilators, oxygen supplies and drugs as hospitals struggle to hold together the country’s healthcare infrastructure.