- The new parliamentary building identified as the Central Vista Project was in the news for wrong reasons and justifiably too. The cost of the new parliamentary building alone is pegged at Rs. 971 crores raising the heckles of many, including but not restricted to opposition political parties, heritage conservationists, civil experts, and general pubic alongside for/against media as well. The Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in a majority verdict of 2-1 granted clearance for the Central Vista redevelopment project marking a big win for the Government facing lots of flak from different quarters on the necessity to undertake the effort during challenging times.
- The Union Government had been vehemently stating the reason for the redevelopment by citing the inadequacies of the current Parliament building and many of the other equally crucial buildings housing central ministries. Whatever arguments advanced by the Government has failed to cut ice with the heritage conservationists and transparency activists who have raised valid concerns, especially over the short shrift accorded to public consultations. Off late, there are increasing incidences of general consultations getting by-passed by the Government machinery thereby allowing voices of dissents to gain traction for such unilateral decisions.
- Left with no option but to knock on the doors of the Supreme Court, opposing activists did raise binding apprehensions vis-à-vis rationale for displacing Parliament from its current complex or the aesthetics, the undesirability of redevelopment in a heritage zone, irrevocable harm is done to heritage buildings, and overall architectural harmony of the earmarked area. As expected, both the majority and dissenting verdicts emanating from the learned Judges rightly refused to get drawn into the instant justiciable arguments. The very fact that these arguments came up before a constitutional court mirrors Governmental failure to meaningfully engage with the public.
PC: Aditya Chunduru
- There is an accepted precedent like discussion by both Houses of Parliament and public hearings that could have helped the Government in persuading all those concerned citizens. There is no denying the fact that the Government’s executive prerogative must prevail as demarcated in the Constitution, but not without having invested in no less than a significant effort in the due processes and seeking to obtain consensus. Questions about proceeding with expensive redevelopment plans during an economic crisis are most valid as well as the Government cited the very reasons for drastically reducing MPLADS funds and GST compensation igniting protests from the elected representatives and respective State Governments.
- The Moot point to ponder over here is why the Government is going ahead by relegating the due process of seeking wide-ranging public consultations involving all stakeholders before deciding to go ahead with the envisaged proposals. A case in point not sticking to the tried and tested consultation processes are the increasingly irksome ongoing farmers’ agitation. Hope the powers-that-be would be realizing the imperativeness of carrying along all for the larger good of the nation.