The second wave of covid-19 pandemic has unleashed yet another dark face of our country. We are witnessing people gasping for breath, running from one hospital to another in search of beds, people rushing back and forth with their loved ones fighting for lives, crematories getting piled up by the dead bodies and outside long queue forms waiting for another last ritual. India has reported the highest number of covid cases for the past few days, and that is more than three lakhs per day and an estimated number of deaths per day is above four thousand.

Not only a health emergency, but also the anxieties of an economic emergency too floats in the air. Unplanned lockdowns and improper decision making geared unemployment rate into its peak point. While the rich are fighting against one pandemic, the common man is forced to fight two pandemics; of covid and of poverty.

Welcome to India, where in the midst of this cacophony of helplessness and despair,  the Modi government is busy planning and working out its 20,000 crore Central Vista project. This not only unveils the pointlessness of the venture but also it’s inhuman intentions. When the country faces an acute shortage of vaccines and not even 2% of its population has been vaccinated, the government plans to finish the construction of the new PM residence by December 2022. 

While the contract for Rs.20,000 crore was awarded in september 2020, the only allocation to fight covid pandemic in the budget 2021 has been Rs.35000 crore which was assigned for vaccination drive but later put the duty on states and households. And it is disheartening that the budget did not contain any allocations for essential things like oxygen, concentrators, ventilators etc even when a second wave was expected and no further add ons when a third wave is expected by the end of this year.

Patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) get treatment at the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital, amidst the spread of the disease in New Delhi, India April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

At a time where resources need to be allocated and used judiciously, what we see is a completely contradicting act which grants permission for its construction and even giving it an essential services tag. Declaring the project as essential service despite the lockdown restrictions in New Delhi, puts the health of labourers, engineers, contractors and other personnel at risk. As workers continue working without any proper protection, it can easily turn into a super spreader activity.

Choosing vanity over people’s lives has major financial, environmental as well as ethical issues. The initial construction worth of Rs. 13540 crore has been approved. If this have been appropriated for covid treatment nearly 45 crore people could’ve been vaccinated, about 14 lakhs ventilators, one crore oxygen cylinders and even 12 new AIIMS could’ve been set up.

Talking about the environmental impacts, as more than 3000 trees which helped in regulating temperature, reducing pollution and removing dust have now been uprooted, which raises a major  challenge.

Lack of opportunity for public discourse on the project and SC’s continued refusal to hear plea clearly establishes the malafide rush behind the scheme. Decision making backed by personal interests and individual gains in such a pathetic state makes us completely incapable to get out of the loop of this pandemic. 

When the country is fighting hard against its economic and health emergency, why is the government busy in increasing its luxury? Could its funds be used for the bare minimum of sustaining lives?


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