By Binoy Viswam
Through giving total clearance for the central Vista project, the Supreme Court once again revealed its total surrender before the government. This process of surrender began on December 7 itself when the court allowed the government to proceed with the foundation stone ceremony. Since then, the seat of justice was preparing its ground for this injustice to be ratified. Thus the 611-page verdict was born, that too as a majority decision.
In the 3-member bench comprising of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheswari and Sanjeev Khanna, the last one was not in agreement with his other colleagues. Still this decision pronounces that the Supreme Court has been transformed into the supreme stormtrooper of the government. On all whimsical plans of the government, the apex court would only put its seal of consent. This level of bowing down of the judiciary before the executive would, by all means, weaken the foundation of democracy.
The Central Vista is expected to be a 20,000-crore construction project to take place in the heart of the power corridor of India. At least 86.1 acre of land would undergo further alteration for this purpose. Thousands of trees are to be cut down. Those who run the government are in a hurry to complete a new Parliament building by 2022. It would be three times bigger than the present Parliament building that has great historical value for India. The government has a duty to explain how this colossal extravaganza becomes a priority for the country when it passes through 30 times bigger crisis in all walks of life.
Union minister for housing and urban affairs has claimed that “the central government has always been sensitive to environmental concerns and will continue to stick to the highest standards during the period of construction.” But the environmental clearance is managed by the government only through its political high handedness. No serious and meaningful environmental impact assessment was done. Same was the case with assessments on social and archeological impacts. Their only concern was to make Delhi “a world class capital city ….., by the time the nation completes 75 years of Independence”. For that the government was ready to go to any extent of environmental destruction. The purpose was to project Prime Minister Modi as a world class leader, rather a world class builder of colossal structures. Right from Patel statue, Ayodhya temple to new Parliament building this construction mania is clearly visible.
The strength and standards of a country depends not on the number of magnificent structures but on the living standards of her people. Looking from that viewpoint, the government should mobilize its resources for building better conditions for the people to lead a decent life. The peasants of India whom they call as annadatas are struggling on the borders of national capital for their basic rights. The workers who are denied of their wages and living conditions are also on the warpath. Peasants and workers are the builders of the nation as they create food and wealth.
The builders of new structures forget even article 21 of the Constitution to deny fundamental rights to the people. The philosophy and psychology that promote the building of the new Parliament structure are diametrically opposite to the living realities of India. The economy has registered minus growth in two consecutive financial quarters, unemployment is ever on the increase. Prices are sky rocketing. There is no guarantee that the poor will get COVID vaccine free of cost. At such a critical situation the government has no right to spend such a huge amount of money for a new building which in no way is a priority for India. On the eve of the Republic Day, we the people of India urge the government to desist from the Central Vista project and invest the amount for the survival of people. (IPA Service)