Postponable luxury, unconscionable: Opposition on Central Vista plan amid COVID-19

Last Updated 26 March 2020, 11:44 IST

A government notification in the midst of coronavirus outbreak on Central Vista project, which includes a new Parliament building, on Thursday attracted criticism from Opposition parties, saying the funds for the project should be utilised for tackling the spreading pandemic.

Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor described 'Central Vista' project as a "postponable luxury" at this time of crisis while CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said it was "unconscionable" that the Centre finds its necessary to spend Rs 20,000 crore at this "precise moment".

"As an MP, I appeal to the Prime Minister of India to divert the Rs 20,000 crore earmarked for new Parliament building and Central Vista to supplement the Rs 15,000 crore allotted to fight COVID-19, which is merely Rs 20 crore per district. Grand spending on buildings at this time of crisis is a postponable luxury," Tharoor tweeted.

Yechury said the Central Vista plan must be scrapped, earmarked funds must be transferred to tackle COVID-19 and its impact on the poor. "Unconscionable that the central government finds it necessary to spend Rs 20,000 crore at this precise moment for a new house for the Prime Minister and other beautification schemes," Yechury said.

The Central Vista project includes the construction of a new triangular-shaped Parliament, new residences for the Vice President and Prime Minister and 10 new building blocks to accommodate government offices. The prime minister's residence and office are likely to be shifted near the South Block and the vice-president's new house will be in the vicinity of the North Block.

The project cost is estimated to be Rs 20,000 crore and expected to be finished between 2022 and 2024.

Last week, the government had notified the change of land use of around 90-acre land in Lutyen's Delhi near Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block and South Block.

The project had invited criticism from a number of architects, urban planners, historians and conservationists, who said tinkering with the historical buildings was unacceptable and it was a wasteful expenditure. Several have also questioned the lack of transparency around the project.

In a recent meeting with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, a section of MPs have questioned the project with some saying the design of the new Parliament was not inspiring.

The new Parliament building will have a seating capacity of 900 to 1,200 MPs with computer screens on tables and offices for Union ministers and MPs and is expected to be built by August 2022. The Central Secretariat is likely to be finished by 2024.

(Published 26 March 2020, 11:44 IST)

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