On Tuesday afternoon, the official twitter handle of the Indian National Congress posted a tweet putting out the picture of a letter written by the party President Sonia Gandhi which was addressed to the Prime minister, communicating the Congress Party’s support to the ordinance issued by the government calling for a 30% The Central Vista project, an undertaking which aims to beautify and to some extent renovate the 3.2 kilometre stretch in the capital of the country, Delhi. The stretch which includes some of the most iconic landmarks in the country including the Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the India Gate War memorial is set to be beautified. This particular stretch holds great significance for the history and culture of the country. The project was initiated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs at a time when the threat of the fast spreading virus had hit the country.
The announcement of the project was made by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs via a notification. Senior architects and professionals in the field believe the project would cost around Rs. 20,000 crores, a project which includes the creation of a recreational district park(9.5 acres), Prime Minister’s Residence on Dalhousie road, making the plot that houses the national archives into a government office and the plot housing the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts into a government office as well as a recreational park.
Sonia Gandhi’s letter is not the first show of disapproval towards this ambitious project. There have been close to 2,000 objections and suggestions sent in regarding the undertaking. The criticism towards the project does not come merely from politicians but from different fields, ranging from architects to historians to environmentalists. The main criticism on all fronts has been the secrecy and lack of public discussion or parliamentary debate with which the project is moving forward. The exclusion of key stakeholders from the project is concerning to all the critics of the project, especially when on the completion of this massive enterprise, the public would have lost approximately 80 acres of land to which they previously had access.
Historians are concerned with the heritage that would be destroyed if the government were to go ahead with their plan, while environmentalists are concerned with the inadequate Environmental Impact Assessment that the government is obligated to conduct under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
While these concerns are valid, they are not the primary concern at this point in time. The funds that go into this need to be diverted towards fighting the pandemic and the beautification of the 3.2 kilometre stretch can wait. The letter sent by the Congress President also included solutions of reducing government expenditure, disallowing advertisements on all forms of media and transferring of funds in the PM CARES to the PM National Relief Fund, the one solution that would have considerable support would be the postponing or cancellation of the ‘Central Vista’ project.
Tags : Central Vista, MoHUA, INC, Sonia Gandhi