The Delhi High Court today dismissed a challenge against the ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project, and fined the petitioner Rs1 lakh as it called the plea “motivated”.
No question arises of suspending the construction work amid the novel coronavirus pandemic as “the labourers are staying at the site”, the High Court stressed today. The ongoing construction work had drawn criticism as India battles a deadly second wave of coronavirus and lakhs are getting affected each day.
As per the contract given to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the construction has to be completed by November, and it should to be allowed to continue, the court stressed today.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh were hearing the petition. The legality of the project was already upheld by the Supreme Court, news agency PTI quoted the bench as saying.
Earlier this month, the centre had told the Delhi High Court the petition was “sheer abuse of the process of law” and yet another attempt to block the project. A request was also made to reject the petition with a fine.
The petition by Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi requested that the Central Vista project be paused as hundreds of workers are being exposed to Covid.
The Centre said the project in the petition is not what is referred to as “the Central Vista project” (which includes Parliament, refurbishment of the North Block, South Block, construction of new offices for central government) but is “limited to the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue or Rajpath”, where the Republic Day parade is held. It says the project at Rajpath involves building public amenities like toilet blocks, paths, parking spaces, four pedestrian underpasses and the “improvement of canals, bridges, lawns, lights etc”.
The new parliament building is the centerpiece of the ₹ 20,000-crore Central Vista project that has been brought under the ambit of “essential services”, angering the opposition.
In Delhi, which was under a lockdown for over a month, construction work was permitted at sites where workers have been given on-site accommodation.