Indians have expressed their fury and displeasure as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi pushes ahead with a $1.8 billion parliamentary revamp while hospitals plead for life-saving oxygen and Covid-19 patients die in their thousands. The project, reports indicate, also includes a new home for the country’s leader.
The public and opposition politicians, noted the apparent disconnect in pouring millions into a construction project;when the country is struggling with its worst-ever public health crisis.
The costly renovation, known as the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, has been categorized;as an “essential service,” meaning construction is allowed to continue even when most other building projects have;been;halted.
As a result, some citizens have lodged a case with the Delhi High Court to try to halt construction. Their complaint indicates that the construction has continued even while the capital, New Delhi is in lockdown.
The petitioners also argue that the parliament buildings don’t constitute an essential service and;construction work could even become a Covid super-spreader event. Workers are continuing to be ferried from their labor camp to the construction site, according special to a leave petition filed by lawyer, Nitin Saluja.
An estimated;46,700 people are;expected to be temporarily employed during construction, it also noted.
According to health authorities, India has reported more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths in each of the past few days. The country accounted for a “quarter of global coronavirus fatalities over the past week”, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) weekly Covid-19 report.
Price for electing a ‘megalomaniac’
Experts indicate that even before the second wave, the Central Vista project had attracted controversy, with critics saying the redevelopment would come at the cost of history and heritage. However, reports indicate that opposition has become more heated recently, with politicians slamming the plan as a vanity project.
Addressing the petition to stop the project, India’s former minister of finance and external affairs, Yashwant Sinha, advocated;for hospitals to be;built;instead.
“People are dying of Covid but Modi’s priority is the Central Vista project. Should we not be building hospitals instead? How much more price the nation must pay for electing a megalomaniac?”
Opposition MP, Rahul Gandhi, also posited that “The Prime Minister’s ego is bigger than people’s lives. Central Vista is not essential. Central Government with a vision – essential.”
On the other hand, those who favour the 86-acre revamp say it is necessary as the current 100-year-old buildings are;not fit for purpose.
A report from an expert appraisal committee meeting indicates that the expansion of the parliament building and construction of a new parliament building will be completed in November 2022. The PM’s residence is also;expected to be finished in December 2022 whiles the entire project is set to be completed;by;the end of 2026.
The $1.8 billion project was;given environmental approval from an expert panel of the Environment Ministry earlier this year.