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With The Central Vista Project, The Government’s Priority During The Pandemic Is Clear

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

As the globe mourns the loss of many loved ones to a devastating pandemic, countries have braced themselves and prepared for a full-fledged battle against an unseen virus by halting all non-essential projects.

The Indian government has been hooked on the Central Vista rehabilitation project, which has been allocated a budget of ₹20,000 crores, or 1% of the disputed relief package proposed by Prime Minister Modi in his trademark 8 pm speech, which, after further disclosure by the country’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, came down to anywhere between ₹2 lakh crores as the overall money spent from the government treasury.

The government’s priority in crisis time remains questionable regarding the above-mentioned figures regarding Central Vista Revamp Budget and the COVID-19 Relief package.

Rajpath New Delhi
Representative Image.

The 3 km region between Rashtrapati Bhawan and India Gate is known as Central Vista, and it is where the national parades take place.

When the quantity should have been held secure until the pandemic had seized to zero patients, the government has heavily rushed the redevelopment plan on a fast track basis. But the centre is firmly behind the plan, which has sparked a slew of concerns. Is it because the plan seeks to achieve its final stages in 2024 when the general assembly elections are being held?

To present a gift to the RSS, the BJP’s parent organisation, on its 100th anniversary in 2024? Is the government’s desire to obliterate all non-Hindu heritage unquenchably? Empower Modi-Shah’s famously known pet architect Bimal Patel? The questions remain endless and so are the speculations.

However, the number of COVID patients and deaths is increasing, necessitating the greatest resourcefulness. However, the focus is not undivided, and it is wavering between personal government benefits and party-based accomplishments. It’s strange that governments, which are supposed to be public servants with social welfare as their top priority, are complicit in an opaque initiative that keeps residents in the dark.

The renovation plan focuses on constructing a new parliament building on a triangular area in front of the old parliament and the renovation of several government buildings and the construction of a mansion for the Prime Minister and Vice President. In addition, the plans call for alterations to national archives and the demolition and alteration of some structures.

Beautification of a country is valued and required, but not at the expense of long-term growth. When a country lacks medications and healthcare and is fighting a pandemic, it is inhuman to invest in materialistic beauty. What benefit will a beautiful gigantic bonanza bring if a country’s human resource is in jeopardy?

Apart from ignoring the importance of the health sector, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, MHUA’s fast plan, rushed through the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) also disregarded a slew of legal possibilities.

Central Vista Project
Representative Image.

The north and south block buildings, the national archives and parliament house, and the campus were listed as Grade I heritage precincts in a 2009 notification. Grade I heritage consists of structures, buildings and precincts of high national and historic importance embodying excellence in architectural design, designs, visuals and aesthetics that are prime landmarks of the region.

The rule was notified under the Delhi Development Act, 1957. The act’s standards for categorisation as Grade I heritage under the unified building Byelaws for Delhi, 2016, remain identical in case of any suspicion over the regulation’s timelapse.

“None or no intervention shall be permitted in Grade I heritage and precincts unless it is absolutely necessary for the interest of strengthening or prolonging their life, and that only absolutely necessary and minimal adjustments would be allowed in compliance with the original,” the consolidated Byelaws declare.

A proposal was submitted to UNESCO in 2012 by the then ruling government, after decades of meticulous work, to deem Delhi city, including the central vista, as a world heritage site because it met the due criteria laid down by UNSECO for a world heritage site. But in 2015, the proposal was withdrawn because it did not meet the due criteria laid down by UNSECO for a world heritage site.

The Modi led central government withdrew the proposal and left people out of wits to imagine a reason behind not letting buildings turning century-old soon become a heritage site.

The flaws are deeply rooted in the systematic slit of public opinion regarding the idea and design of the revamp. As the process suggests, the permission for the revamp was to be processed through the Municipal Authority, which then consults the Heritage Conservation Committee, which is bound to invite and consider public objection before granting permission.

Except for one formality, such as a step that Delhi takes, no details regarding this process are visible to the general public.

On 6 and 7 February, the Development Authority, DDA, asked for suggestions, and a total of 2,000 persons wrote to DDA opposing the Central Vista design. Only 1,292 people were called to a meeting on the 6 and 7 February, 2020 to express their opinions in about 9 hours every day, leaving each individual with the difficult challenge of presenting their opinions in just two and a half minutes, demonstrating that the will to genuinely listen and extract relevant suggestions was uncommon.

During the lockdown on 23 April, when people battled worry and sickness through a virtual meeting, the government plan to build a new parliament building was approved by CPWD without the presence of any non-government members of IIA and ITP. Many emailed to ask for the meeting to be postponed.

They could not attend due to COVID travel restrictions, yet, without batting an eye, the meeting was held on the scheduled day, highlighting the government’s terrible desire to carry out the plan no matter what may come.

While the environmental implications of this revamp have yet to be discussed, it has been speculated that while nearly 80 acres of land that was previously used for public recreation will be redeveloped, a significant amount of waste that 23 lakh people can consume will be used in this construction project.

The second of two Supreme Court petitions to rethink the proposal was sought to be withdrawn, with permission to make revisions in the first petition granted by a court led by CJI Bobde, who stated that any building work could not begin during the pandemic lockdown. Advocate Prashant Bhushan has accused CJI Bobde of using the judiciary to undermine the democratic system.

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  1. Sanjay Priyadarshi

    I donot buy your views nor support it. why the need to target central vista ?we have thousands of infra projects in WIP with lakhs of workers….Maharashtra is constructing MLA qtrs and budget allocated in 960+ crores and Similiar Chattisgarh….the idea of new parliament stated from UPA era and supported in parliament and well recorded. Shashi Tharoor praise of Malaysia’s parliament is a direct comparison to the Indian parliament is well known.The article is well managed by political forces who cried a lot and have a new dimension to central vista as Modi residence.The fact is “covid for workers” -the number was 600+ was mere an emotional touch to bring as much youth and international eyes during the pandemic.No body thought that if work was delayed what could have happened to the workers and why a company will pay them as they are contracting labours. such propaganda from author is disgusting which has undermined the highest court judgement and ex CJI

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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