Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of India passed a judgement that gave the government clearance to proceed with their Central Vista Project, aiming to renovate the Parliament extensively.
The government had already laid the foundation stone for the project early last month. This plan allows the government to redevelop 86 acres of land where renowned structures such as the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate are located.
The budget allocated for the same is nearly 200 bn rupees or 20,000 crores, and the extravagant revamping is set to be completed by August 15th 2022 – in celebration of India’s 75th Independence Day.
Petitions after petitions were filed by people who believed that this renovation violated specific environmental regulations. But after overcoming many petitions against the project, the government is now ready to commence the construction.
Why Has The Verdict Become A Matter Of Controversy?
The Supreme Court of India passed the judgement with a 2-1 majority on Tuesday. Justice Sanjiv Khanna was the only judge on the bench who believed that the renovation project’s timing was in poor taste.
The ruling party claims that the reason behind such a renovation is due to the wear and tear and the noticeable depreciation of these age-old buildings and their structures. Along with this, the new Parliament will supposedly be larger and accommodate around 1400 MPs.
It is important to note that it is well within the powers of the government to carry out such renovations and construct new establishments. However, the immense backlash has resulted from the public’s belief that the government’s priorities are misplaced.
In light of recent affairs, such as the ongoing farmer’s protests and the ever-prevalent rise in India’s coronavirus cases, the government is being heavily criticised for channelling funds towards a project that does not seem as crucial at the moment.
Apart from the issues mentioned above, the economy’s GDP is projected to drop by 7.7%, the lowest contraction the economy will face since the year 1952. Large sectors such as those belonging to the service sector have also faced the brunt of the pandemic’s damage.
The Congress party believes that the government’s callous attitude towards public welfare and their exorbitant spending only goes to show their concerns at the moment.
With many of the opposition parties taking to Twitter to publicly showcase their disapproval, here are some of their responses:
Petrol prices hit all-time high. Petrol now costs ₹90.83/litre, but a barrel of crude is just $51.77. At a time when 12.2 cr Indians have lost their jobs, the BJP govt has no shame in looting the common man. This is how the govt is getting the Rs 20,000 cr for #centralvista!
— Dr. Shama Mohamed (@drshamamohd) January 7, 2021
The ₹13,450 CR 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.#CentralVista
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 5, 2021
The Supreme Court in a 2-1 order has said no procedural lapses. But the point is the priority at this time – in the middle of a pandemic, growing hunger, a crashing economy, job losses and rising child malnutrition since before Covid-19. #CentralVista
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) January 5, 2021
The Parliament renovation aims to do away with out-dated structures and introduce new establishments that are more in sync with India’s growing needs, especially regarding the growing population.
There are concerns, however, that this decision by the Supreme Court was hasty and done without taking into consideration other important factors.
The Central Vista project must not deviate the government from what’s currently far more urgent. They must continue to focus on securing vaccines, tackling the economy’s issues and addressing the public’s grievances.
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