New Delhi:The Central Government on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the construction work taking place in and around the Rajpath in the central Delhi during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown was not for the Central Vista Project but for public amenities like new toilet blocks, parking spaces and pedestrian underpasses.
The Delhi High Court was hearing a plea seeking a stay on all the construction at the Central Vista amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is respectfully submitted that the scope of work for the project in question is not what is colloquially referred to as the Central Vista Project," the Centre's affidavit said as quoted by Bar and Bench.
"It may be noted that the scope of work is as follows: (i.) Providing public amenities like toilet blocks, paths, parking space, vendorzone; 3 (ii.) Making four pedestrian underpasses below Janpath and C-Hexagon Road. (iii.) Improvement of canals, bridges, lawns, lights etc," it further stated.
Petitioners Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker had alleged that the disaster management authority circular has been violated by the central government as only emergency or essential services are allowed during the lockdown.
Also, the petitioners pointed out that as per the guidelines, all construction activities have to be stopped except the ones where labourers are residing on the site.
The workers for the Vista project are being ferried by bus from Karol Bagh, Kirti Nagar and Sarai Kale Khan, the petitioners alleged.
The Central government, however, submitted that full arrangements have been made to ensure that the construction activities happen in compliance with the COVID protocol.
"It is submitted that in the meantime, a COVID compliant facility was installed at the worksite itself, to accommodate the 250 workers who had expressed their willingness to stay put and continue the aforesaid work.
The facility provides for strict implementation of COVID protocol strictly and also adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour, such as sanitisation, thermal screening, physical/social distancing and masking," it was submitted.
The affidavit also questioned the intentions of the petitioners as they chose only Central Vista Project while overlooking the construction work on projects of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Public Works Department (PWD) and others.
"The petitioner has chosen to be a 'public-spirited citizen' only with regard to one project only speaks volumes about his intentions and motive behind filing the present petition that too suppressing all these facts," the affidavit alleged.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh adjourned the matter for Wednesday since the Central government's reply was not on record.
The court had earlier kept the matter for hearing on May 17 without passing any orders. The petitioner had then approached the Supreme Court against the same contending that the urgency and public health emergency sought to be addressed by the petition would stand defeated by adjourning the matter to May 17.
The Apex Court, however, declined to interfere but granted liberty to the petitioners to mention the matter before the Delhi High Court for early hearing.
A new Parliament House, a new residential complex, which will house the Prime Minister and the Vice-President, government buildings of several offices and a Central Secretariat to accommodate Ministry offices, will be rebuild in and around the Rajpath area, under the umbrella of Central Vista Project.
A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had on January 5 given green signal to the project, rejecting the petitions challenging the project for alleged violation of land use and environmental norms.(UNI)