A day after the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region called for , the Central Vista Redevelopment Project remained among exceptions to the order that was issued “in the interest of public safety”.
The order to halt construction activities had come as an emergency step to tackle the deteriorating air quality in the capital, along with the closure of schools and work from home for 50 per cent staff in government offices.
“All construction will be halted till then, except work related to the Railways, the Metro, the airport, bus terminals and defence-related projects,” the order stated, according to the Indian Express. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta reiterated the same at the Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday in connection with air pollution in Delhi.
SG: All construction activity except four exempted categories have to be stopped till November 21.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 17, 2021
The exempted categories are: Railway services/ railway stations; Metro Rail services/ stations; Airports and Inter State bus terminals; National security #DelhiPollution pic.twitter.com/QJpWNtrdWF
When Newslaundry called the Commission for Air Quality Management to clarify if the Central Vista project was exempt from the order, the response from the office landline was: “No, it is not.”
The commissioner’s office said he was not available for comment.
When Newslaundry contacted Bimal Patel, the president of HCP Design, the centre’s consultant for the entire project, to ask why construction activities were not affected by the Commission for Air Quality Management’s order, he said that he would only respond via email.
This article shall be updated when we receive a response.
The Central Vista project aims to redevelop and expand India’s Parliament, Prime Minister’s residence and several other government buildings.
Earlier this year, the project was called “” by the Delhi High Court when the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak.
‘Safety is the priority, quality is the standard’
This is a phrase that is spread across several Central Public Works Departments’ barricades that shield the ongoing construction from the public gaze.
'Safety is the priority, quality is the standard,' read barricades on the site.
However, the safety of those behind these barricades, the workers, did not seem to be a priority﹘on a day when the Air Quality Index hovered at 350 (hazardous) in the India Gate area.
Since entry to the site has been May 12, Newslaundry peeped through the gaps in the barricades. Many of the workers were not wearing masks, amid the smog and a marginal hike in the Covid test positivity rate in Delhi. Children were spotted on the site too.
At the construction site on Wednesday.
Work began as usual at 8 am, according to the construction workers who were hesitant to comment further.
A lone worker was seen getting a tattoo during his break. When this reporter approached him to inquire about whether he knew about the halt in construction across Delhi to combat air pollution, he said, “I can see your ID...We can’t talk to anyone in the media. We will only stop working if the contractor tells us to.”
Speaking to Newslaundry , workers had said that they ended up spending extra money on healthcare despite an in-house doctor and the promise of medicines.
As per the , long term exposure to outdoor air pollution, especially PM 2.5, leads to “cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers”. The organisation also stated that there was a "close, quantitative relationship between exposure to high concentrations of small particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) and increased mortality or morbidity, both daily and over time."
All pictures by Supriti David.
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