India's 'Vanity Project' Proceeds Despite COVID Crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 1.8 billion dollar overhaul of New Delhi's historic parliament district was controversial even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

    2021/05/17

NSFW    NEW DELHI, INDIA — Many Indians are horrified that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is rebuilding the Indian capital's historic center during the COVID pandemic.

The 1.8-billion-dollar revamp has sparked heated debate among politicians, architects and heritage experts. Here are the details:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's overhaul of New Delhi's historic center was controversial even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

CNN reports that, since it was announced in 2019, the 1.8 billion dollar Central Vista Redevelopment Project has been branded unduly expensive, environmentally irresponsible and a threat to cultural heritage.

And with Modi's elaborate new private residence — which comprises 10 buildings across 15 acres of land — among dozens of planned new government structures, many critics have slammed the scheme as an architectural vanity project that serves India's populist leader, not its people.

This outrage has been brought into sharp focus by the coronavirus crisis.

Amid a devastating second wave that has pushed the country's hospitals to breaking point, opposition MP, Rahul Gandhi, took to Twitter to compare the cost of the project to the money needed to vaccinate 450 million Indians, or purchase 10 million oxygen cylinders.

Mr Gandhi concluded his tweet by saying that Mr Modi's ego is bigger than people's lives.

Indian nationalists generally support the prioritization of the project, as the building's symbolism lies not only in its design, which alludes to the importance of triangles in the sacred geometries of several religions, but also in India's ability to complete large-scale infrastructure projects quickly and on schedule.
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