The Central Public Works Department has prohibited photography and video recording at the Central Vista construction work near India Gate in Delhi amid criticism over the project, reported PTI. Signboards reading “no photography” and “no video recording” have been put up at the site.

The Central Vista project is an initiative of the Narendra Modi government. It 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 construction of the prime minister and vice president’s residences is likely to be over by 2022.

The Centre has faced criticism for continuing with construction work for the project amid a lockdown in Delhi, even as a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country. The construction at the site in Delhi has been deemed an “essential service”, meaning work continues even during the lockdown.

India has reported more than 3 lakh cases a day every day for the past three weeks, since April 22. On Thursday, India registered 3,62,727 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 2,37,03,665 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. With 4,120 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,58,317.

On Wednesday, leaders of 12 Opposition parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to suspend the Central Vista project and instead divert the money to buy oxygen and vaccines, supplies of which are running dangerously low.

As many as 65 civil society groups and environmental organisations on Wednesday also appealed to the Centre to halt the project.

“All the unnecessary expenditures, including the construction of lavish Central Vista, must be halted and all available resources must be diverted to urgent Covid response,” said a statement issued by Vikalp Sangam, one of the organisations.

The full focus of economic activities in the name of development from now on must be on human and environmental health and well-being, it said. “While the central and state governments have necessary resources to carry these out, and must be held accountable for them, civil society groups and bodies of local self-governance in villages and cities must also put full efforts into making these possible,” the statement added.

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Central Vista: Centre opposes plea to halt construction work, says another attempt to stall project