The Chhattisgarh government on Thursday cancelled tenders for the construction of the new Assembly building and also stopped work on major projects in the state, reported PTI.

In a statement, the state government said that construction work of the Assembly, the new governor’s house, chief minister’s house, residences of ministers and senior officers, new circuit house has now been stopped with immediate effect.

“Foundation stone for the construction of new Assembly building, Raj Bhavan, chief minister’s house, residence of ministers and senior officials, new circuit house was laid before start of Corona[virus],” tweeted Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. “Today [Thursday], all these construction works have been stopped in these times of crisis.” The foundation laying ceremony was done in November 2019.

The money saved will be diverted towards improving Covid-related facilities, according to India Today. The state government has also decided to take more strict measures to rein in the spread of the infection.

The decision came a day after leaders of 12 Opposition parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that the Centre suspend the Central Vista project and instead divert the money to buy oxygen and vaccines, supplies which are running dangerously low.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has faced criticism for continuing with the construction work even as a coronavirus pandemic is raging across the country. A plea has been filed before the Delhi High Court to stop the construction activity but the Centre has opposed the petition, calling it just another attempt to stall the work.

The project, an initiative of the Narendra Modi government, 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 BJP had hit out at the Congress for the criticism on the project. On Tuesday, BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, accusing the Opposition party of “misleading people and creating false panic” on the prevailing pandemic situation.

Nadda said that the need for a new Parliament was raised “as early as the UPA [United Progressive Alliance regime] times” and also mentioned Chhattisgarh’s Assembly construction.

“People are also contrasting the Congress’ stand on Central Vista with the Chhattisgarh government going ahead to build a new Assembly complex,” he wrote.

However, after the Chhattisgarh government announced halting the construction, the Congress hit back the Centre. “This how a responsive and responsible government works in a democracy,” tweeted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, along with Baghel’s statement of suspending work. “Chhattisgarh government is prioritising lives of its people above everything else and redoubling its efforts to fight Covid-19. When will you learn and stop this Central Vista madness?”

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