'Scrap Central Vista Project': 60 Former Civil Servants Write To PM Modi, Housing Ministry

The former bureaucrats said that the government's decision to go ahead with the project despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which demands excessive funds for strengthening the public health systems, is irresponsible.

Delhi   |   18 May 2020 10:09 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-05-18T17:03:57+05:30
Writer : Navya Singh | Editor : Prateek Gautam | Creatives : Abhishek M
Scrap Central Vista Project: 60 Former Civil Servants Write To PM Modi, Housing Ministry

Sixty retired civil servants wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri expressing their 'grave concerns' about the Central Vista Redevelopment Project currently planned in the most iconic heritage precinct of New Delhi.

The former bureaucrats said, "redevelopment project will significantly affect the heritage nature of this precinct, and destroy it irrevocably," cautioning that "the redevelopment planned will, moreover cause severe environmental damage."

The retired IAS, IFS and IPS officers said that they do not subscribe to any specific political ideology, thereby clarifying that they wrote the letter only to "focus upon issues that have a bearing upon the Indian Constitution and issues of democracy."

They also stated that the government's move to go ahead with the project despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which demands excessive funds for strengthening the public health systems, is irresponsible.

The massive contract was given to a HCP Design, Planning and Management Private Limited, a Gujarat-based company in October last year to rebuild the Central Vista and Parliament.

The three-km-long Central Vista spreads from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate. On March 20, the Centre informed about the change in land use for the massive project.

"Taking up a proposal to redesign the entire Central Vista at a cost of atleast Rs 20, 000 crores, a figure likely to escalate significantly, seems particularly irresponsible. It seems like Nero fiddling while Rome burns…. We appeal to the government to see the fallacy in going ahead with this project and to issue the necessary notifications forthwith to stop the work from going ahead," the letter read.

The bureaucrats also raised concerns over the selection of the consultant architect appointed for the project. "A hastily drafted and inappropriate tender was rushed through in record time to select an architectural firm in what was an extremely flawed process," the letter pointed.

The signatories wrote that the Central Vista was built during British rule, adding that it was "nurtured, savoured and celebrated" after Independence. Any amendments to the area should keep its history in mind, they wrote.

"The Central Vista area has been accorded Grade 1 heritage status under the extant Unified Building Bye Laws of Delhi," the letter said. "Construction and redesign on the scale planned in the redevelopment project will significantly affect the heritage nature of this precinct, and destroy it irrevocably."

Pointing to the 'secrecy' in the process, the bureaucrats said that the plan is against the basic tenets of the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021, which doesn't permit new office construction in New Delhi and focuses on efforts to be made to decongest the region.

The letter also alleged that the government had ignored suggestions or recommendations sent by the experts. The bureaucrats alleged that clearances of the Environmental Assessment Committee of the Ministry of Environment and the Central Vista Committee are being pushed despite the matter being sub-judice.

The Supreme Court on April 30, had refused to stay the project, but said that no work can be continued while the COVID-19 crisis exists.

Also Read: Supreme Court Refuses To Put Rs 20,000 Cr Delhi Central Vista Project On Hold Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

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