NEW DELHI: Highlighting the alleged shades of irregularities and 'fallacy' in the Centre’s approach to contentious Central Vista Redevelopment Project, 60 former bureaucrats of the country including retried secretaries and former ambassadors on Sunday wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Ministry for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri to stop the work, which is set to alter the landscape of iconic heritage precinct of Rajpath.
Former top administrators, in their letter, said that the project would not only significantly affect the heritage and environment but cause irreparable damage.
They also said that the government’s decision to go ahead with the project despite coronavirus crisis, which requires funds for strengthening the public health systems, is irresponsible.
“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,” said the letter.
A couple of signatories were holding top positions in different Government departments including environment and housing ministries during first tenure of Modi government.
“The Central Vista area has been accorded Grade 1 heritage status under the extant Unified Building Bye Laws of Delhi. Construction and redesign on the scale planned in the redevelopment project will significantly affect the heritage nature of this precinct, and destroy it irrevocably,” said the letter.
Expressing grave concern over environmental damage caused by the project, “Constructing a large number of multi-storeyed office buildings, with basements, in this open area will create congestion and irreversibly change and damage the environment. Delhi already suffers from enormous environmental pollution. To plan something which will increase this pollution many, many times, not merely during the construction phase but also subsequently, is clearly a thoughtless and irresponsible act,” said the letter.
The former bureaucrats also questioned 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,” said the communique.
Questioning the ‘secrecy’ being maintained in the process, they said that the plan is against the basic tenets of the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021, which doesn’t allow new office construction in New Delhi and emphasizes on efforts to be made to decongest the region.
The letter further alleged that the government had ignored suggestions forwarded by the experts and eminent professional agencies.