Ex-bureaucrats miffed over Central Vista project, write open letter to PM

69 former civil servants have sent an open letter to the PM questioning the rationale behind the project when the country is facing a severe health and economic crisis.

central vista

Former civil servants have written a harshly worded letter to PM Narendra Modi on the expenditure being made on the Central vista redevelopment project. They have questioned the rationale behind the government’s “pursuit of pomp and grandeur” even as the country is battling with COVID-19 pandemic which has affected lives and livelihoods of millions in India.

The former central and state government civil servants, about 69 of them, state that they are a part of ‘Constitutional Conduct Group’. In their open letter that have expressed their displeasure over the manner in which the project is being carried out in complete disregard for rule of law and demonstrates “executive highhandedness”. The signatories include Meeran C Borwankar IPS (Retd.); Madhu Bhaduri IFS (retd.), Anand Arni R&AW (Retd.) and 66 others

The letter, calling the project a monumental ambition, states that the project has taken precedence over improving public health infrastructure which has taken a hit during the pandemic and which is currently the need of the hour.

“Whether it was in inviting design options, selecting consultants, holding fair and transparent stakeholder consultations, obtaining approvals of the institutions and authorities dealing with urban design, planning and environmental clearances – everything was done to ensure that rules and procedures were given short shrift, due processes treated with contempt and a predetermined plan of action bulldozed through,” states the letter.

The letter points out what many critics of the project have been pointing towards, that the matter is subjudice before the Supreme Court whereby the court had demanded an undertaking from the government that no action would be taken before it gave its final orders. In fact, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta undertook on behalf of the government that no construction, demolition or cutting of trees will be carried out. The court had however, allowed the Centre to proceed with the paperwork of the project and the foundation stone laying ceremony of the proposed new Parliament building.

The letter also points out “constitutional impropriety” on the part of the Prime Minister as he laid the foundation stone for the Parliament building being head of the executive and not the legislature.

The letter also states that “the tearing hurry on the part of the government to execute the project is reflected by the different figures it has given to various government agencies on the number of trees cut for the purpose.” They have asked for the plans to be redrawn to be compatible with environmental and heritage conservation standards.

The letter concludes by stating that the project should be subjected to critical scrutiny by citizens and independent experts.


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