‘We must have the new Parliament building done by August 2022. All those people who are involved in the making of this project are confident it will happen in specified time,’ says Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

The Supreme Court has given a green signal for the Modi government’s Central Vista project, which would create larger working space for efficient functioning of Parliament and administrative block for ministries and departments of the Union government in the heart of New Delhi. On this occasion, Union Minister Hardeep Singh spoke exclusively to The Daily Guardian.

Q: This year has been a difficult one, but good news has come from the Supreme Court giving the go-ahead for the Central Vista Project, so when do we start? 

A. We should start immediately, there are some guidelines given by the SC which will be followed by us. The foundation stone has already been laid down by the Prime Minister; yes, there was a slight pause by the top court, but now green light has been given and we will take their suggestions on board and even by our own we will maintain the highest international standard quality for Parliament and other projects related to Central Vista, that I can give categorical assurance.

Q. Now that the legal challenges are over, are you hoping that timeline of a couple of years still be met? 

A. First of all, you use the word couple of years, actually it is a little tighter than that. The intention and resolve we have is that the 75th year of Independence should be celebrated in the new Parliament in 2022. And for that we must have the new Parliament building done by August 2022. All those people who are involved in the making of this project are confident it will happen in specified time. 

Q. People are saying it is rather expensive at Rs 20,000 crore and a vanity project, what do you have to say to them? 

A. First of all, these figures about the project are not serious, let me give you some facts which are startling and will speak for themselves. The concept and design of the current Parliament building was undertaken 93 years ago. 

And at that time colonial power had no intention or it was not even on the radar screen that India would be an independent country. Most countries after getting their Independence had built their own structures within 20-25 years but in our case it›s been many decades. This is a project designed for posterity and this is a project being undertaken by a democratically-elected government which will use Indian expertise, Indian genius, Indian material and will be dedicated to the people of India as a celebration of democracy. This Parliament building is likely to be used for the next 100-200 years and as far as the cost is concerned, the figures given for the construction of Parliament are not at all true. When I speak to professionals and tell them that a project is being made at the cost of Rs 900 crore, people are taken aback. But if you look at the overall project, we are paying Rs 1,000 crore on hiring government spaces for offices. This Parliament will be something which is going to be there for 100-200 years and the invested cost will be recovered in the few years. 

 Q. Now on farmers’ protests if I ask you, earlier the protest was about the MSP and now it has become about Sikh pride; how do we separate these kinds of confusion and emotional issues?

A. Anyone who builds a constituency for protest in democracy which is as robust as full of vitality as ours, you can start at one and end up at a completely different point. If this is to deal with core farmers’ issues, I have written a number of articles on it where I said we are ready to sit down with them as we are doing now and the next meeting is in the next two days. I think with commitment and determination that this government has shown, a solution can be found. But if the significance of the protest is that you will change the goal post then it becomes a little more difficult. Many things that have been done today had been asked by the Congress in the past. A committee set by then Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar had made exactly the same recommendations as we have today. This has been part of the Congress manifesto as well. So, I am very hopeful that in the coming few days there will be light at the end of the tunnel and we will be able to find the solution.

Q: Finally, what are the preparations at the airports and special flights, etc, for carrying the Covid vaccine? 

A. Well, they have done the dry run and all stakeholders throughout the country from the civil aviation sector to others are ready, as soon as the green light comes which may be in a few days’ time. India will be one of the first countries to roll out the vaccine for being made available for all our citizens in a very orderly and effective manner.


Central VistaFeaturedHardeep SinghNarendra ModiPM Modi