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Poor timing: The Central Vista project

Readers' Speak: Strict lockdowns across Europe during Christmas
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone of New Parliament Building, in New Delhi.

The Telegraph   |   Published 16.12.20, 12:44 AM

Sir — The orderly ‘ground-breaking ceremony’ in New Delhi for a new, grand and imposing Parliament complex seemed rather incongruous to the times, as the country is going through unprecedented difficulties owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn. The occasion was rendered cheerless in the face of the intensified agitation by farmers, who demand that the new farm laws be repealed. The ‘bhoomi pujan’ performed in keeping with Hindu traditions was a display of the primacy of one particular religion. 

The Central Vista project, estimated to cost about Rs 20,000 crore, reinforces the notion that politics is too often determined by the personal vanities of politicians. The new Parliament building is being touted as a necessity to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Independence. But would not a resolve to strengthen democratic values and practices and a plan of action to mitigate crises like poverty have been a worthier tribute than the construction of a grandiose building? 


The government should be more concerned with resolving the economic hardships of India’s impoverished multitudes than with securing ease of working for parliamentarians and bureaucrats. In a city where destitute, homeless countrymen sleep on pavements, one cannot in good conscience boast of a four-storey, triangular building within a grand construction sprawling across the heart of the national capital. Further, the clearance of trees — they are supposed to be transplanted and not cut down — to prepare the ground for concrete structures is not going to help with the abatement of pollution in Delhi.

Shovanlal Chakraborty,

Sir — The prime minister, Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament complex project while the people of India, many of whom are still starving, wonder what was the point of such a massive financial indulgence at a time when the country’s economy is facing severe crises. Many have also lost their livelihood on account of the pandemic. 

The construction work, however, cannot begin at the moment since the Supreme Court is still hearing petitions challenging the project. It has warned the government against “pushing forward aggressively” with the project ahead of the top court’s decision. The prime minister owes an explanation to the people of India for the huge expenditure which appears to be nothing but a waste of public money, especially during a time of crisis.

Bhagwan Thadani,

Sir — The Central Vista project will be of little benefit to the people. In comparison, the statue of Vallabhbhai Patel was better designed, as it was supposed to serve, in certain ways, the interests of the people. The government needs to imagine public edifices that embrace the common people; they cannot be exclusive fortifications. Edifices and facilities — consider the Grand Trunk Road — built by monarchs for public use have endured in the collective memory of the people because of their inclusiveness.

In monarchies, national infrastructure has owners who pass on the responsibility of its maintenance to their heirs. But in a democracy, ministers are keen only on extending their term; so they pander to the current set of voters by means of ostentatious constructions. Perhaps that is why many European nations happily carry on public business in the centuries-old structures that bear the memorable stamp of every period of their history.

R. Narayanan,
Navi Mumbai

Cheerless season

Sir — It is disheartening that many countries in Europe are considering strict lockdowns just ahead of Christmas owing to a spike in Covid-19 cases. After Greece and Germany, the Netherlands are now expected to enforce a renewed phase of lockdown. Although it is understandable that people would be heartbroken by these moves, it is necessary that they stay strong and fight the virus by abiding by the rules chalked out for their own safety. After all, keeping it low one festive season could ensure that they live to celebrate many more such occasions in the future.

Shekhar Moitra,

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