Central Vista: HC to take up early hearing plea to stop work on Tuesday

Petitioners had contended that the project was not an essential activity and therefore, it can be put on hold for now during the pandemic

Central Vista: HC to take up early hearing plea to stop work on Tuesday

Construction work underway as part of the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, at Rajpath in New Delhi. PTI

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 10

The Delhi High Court on Monday agreed to hear on Tuesday a plea for early hearing of a petition seeking to stop construction work relating to the Central Vista redevelopment project in view of a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We are keeping it tomorrow,” a Bench led by Chief Justice DN Patel told senior advocate Siddharth Luthra after the latter mentioned it for early listing this morning.

The Central Vista redevelopment plan – which aims to free up 75-acre land in the heart of the capital – involves demolition of around 10 buildings, including Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, Vice-President’s House and Lok Nayak Bhawan.

Announced in September last year, it envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for more than 1,200 MPs, expected to be constructed by August 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day. The common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024.

Refusing to set aside the clearances given to the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, the Supreme Court on January 5 said it can’t venture into policy matters and areas reserved for the Executive without any legal basis.

On Monday, Luthra explained that after the high court posted the matter for hearing on May 17 petitioners—Anya Malhotra, who works as a translator, and documentary filmmaker Sohail Hashmi had moved the top court against the high court’s May 4 order.

The high court had adjourned the matter, saying it wanted to study the top court’s January 5 judgement giving a go ahead to the Central Vista project.

The petitioners had contended that the project was not an essential activity and therefore, it can be put on hold for now during the pandemic. Luthra had told the top court that the plea was only opposed to the permission granted for continuing the construction going on at Rajpath, Central Vista stretch and gardens.

“Labourers are being transported from Sarai Kale Khan and Karol Bagh area to Rajpath and Central Vista, where construction work is going on. This enhances chances of spread of COVID infection among them,” Luthra had told the apex court.

Luthra had told the top court that when the nation was considering lockdown and even the Indian Premier League was being shut, the construction activity cannot be allowed.

The plea before the high court has contended that the project has the potential to be a super spreader if allowed to continue during the pandemic.

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