The Supreme Court refused to hear a petition for stopping construction work on the Central Vista plan at Rajpath and India Gate in the heart of Delhi.
The Supreme Court said the case is pending before the Delhi High Court and asked the petitioner to request the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court for an early hearing.
The Centre had objected to the request by petitioner Anya Malhotra.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the petitioner, argued that Covid will peak in May and there is a 30 per cent increase in cases from April. Construction work at a 3.5 km-stretch around India Gate should be suspended in the circumstances, he said.
But the Centre objected, saying the High Court had adjourned the case to May 17 and had yet to hear it.
Mr Luthra argued that it was a humanitarian crisis and workers were exposed to infection.
“You (petitioner) can request the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court for an early hearing. You have come here against the adjournment of the case,” the Supreme Court said.
“We are of the opinion that since the matter is pending before the High Court that had only adjourned the case, the petitioner should request the Chief Justice of the High Court for an early hearing,” Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari said.
The petition, which asks that the Central Vista redevelopment project be suspended due to Covid, was moved before the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court adjourned the case to May 17.
The construction is “not advisable” in the current situation of Covid in Delhi and will be a super-spreader, the petition says.
It also argues that it is not overreaching the Supreme Court verdict last year allowing the plan to proceed but only wants temporary suspension of construction activity, given the present health crisis in Delhi.
Construction work near India Gate has not stopped even though Delhi has been in lockdown for nearly three weeks. Construction work is permitted at construction sites where workers are living on-site. But NDTV found many workers travelling to the site daily from other parts of Delhi.
The grand makeover plan recently received an environmental go-ahead and a deadline has been set for a new home for the Prime Minister as part of the plan — December 2022.
The Central Vista plan involves the building of a new triangular parliament building, a common central secretariat and refurbishing a three-kilometre-long Rajpath from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.