The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to halt construction work at the ambitious Central Vista Avenue in the National Capital, saying the work on the project is of national importance and has to be completed within a time-bound schedule by November.
The ongoing construction work has come under severe criticism as the country battles a deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Refusing to suspend work at the redevelopment project amid the pandemic, a Bench comprising Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said, “Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment Project is equally important and essential as the Central Vista Project (the main project).
If this type of project is stopped, the main project cannot be completed within the stipulated time. Once the workers are staying at the site and all facilities have been provided by respondent 4 (Shapoorji Pallonji and Co), Covid-19 protocols have adhered and Covid-19 appropriate behaviour is being followed, there is no reason to stop the project.”
“The construction activity of this essential project or a project of national importance cannot be stopped especially when the conditions imposed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on April 19 are not flouted or violated,” the judgment further said.
The petitioners — Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker — had sought suspension of work on the redevelopment of the Central Vista Avenue which includes both sides of Rajpath where Republic Day celebration during the pandemic.
The whole project was awarded after tendering process and time being the essence of the contract, the work has to be completed within the time-bound schedule on or before November 2021, the HC said while rejecting the arguments of the petitioners that the time limit is extended.
Imposing a cost of `1 lakh on petitioners to be deposited by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority within four weeks, the HC termed the petition as “motivated” and “not a genuine PIL”.
Stating that its construction of redevelopment project is of “vital importance and essential,” the judges said that it cannot be seen in isolation as that clearance to the project has already been upheld by the Supreme Court. “The whole Central Vista is an essential project of national importance where the sovereign functions of the Parliament will be conducted. The public is widely interested in this project,” it said.
Rejecting the stand that the project is not an essential activity, the Chief Justice said that the project is of vital importance and essential and has a direct nexus with the main project.
While the Supreme Court in January gave nod to the proposed project, the revamp, which was announced in September last year, envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 members of the parliament, that is targeted to be constructed by August 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day. The government plans to conserve the existing Parliament building, claiming it to be an archaeological asset of the country. The construction is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of around Rs 1,000 crore.