New Delhi: While hospitals plead for life-saving oxygen and Covid-19 victims dying in thousands, India’s Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi is pushing ahead with a $1.8 billion parliament renovation — which includes a brand new home for the country’s leader.
The decision to continue with the assignment in the capital, New Delhi, has infuriated the general public and opposition politicians, who have pointed to the obvious disconnect in pouring tens of thousands of dollars right into a construction whilst the country is suffering from its worst-ever public health crisis.
The costly renovation, known as the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, has been categorized as an “essential service,” meaning that the construction is applicable to continue even when most other real estate projects have been halted.
Two citizens — including one whose mother is suffering from the Covid-19 virus has lodged a case with the Delhi High Court on Wednesday to try to halt construction, which has continued even while the capital is under lockdown.
The petitioners argued that the parliament buildings don’t constitute an essential service and the construction work could even become a Covid super-spreader event, according to the special leave petition filed by lawyer Nitin Saluja. Whereas the workers are continuing to be ferried from their labour camp to the construction site, according to the document.
“Since there is a public health emergency in the matter, any delay could be detrimental to the larger public interest,” Saluja wrote to the Supreme Court.
India has recorded more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths within the past few days. The country accounted for 1 / 4 of world coronavirus fatalities during the last week, according to the World Health Organizations (WHO) weekly Covid-19 report.
“The launch of the construction of the Parliament House of India, with the idea of Indianness by Indians, is one of the most important milestones of our democratic traditions,” Modi said in December at the ceremony of laying of the building’s foundation stone. “We the people of India will construct this new Parliament building together.”
It is also estimated that 46,700 people are expected to be temporarily working during construction.
It has also been noticed that the $1.8 billion parliament renovation was given environmental approval from an expert panel of the Environment Ministry earlier this year, essentially giving the project the green light.
But as coronavirus cases have continued to rise, so has the backlash to Modi’s project.