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Workers at Central Vista project reside at work site, follow COVID-19 protocols, Centre tells Delhi HC

“A COVID compliant facility was installed at the worksite itself, to accommodate the 250 workers who had expressed their willingness to stay put and continue the aforesaid work. The facility provides for strict implementation of COVID appropriate behaviour,” said the government.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
May 11, 2021 12:28:09 pm
Central Vista projectCentral Vista project under construction at India Gate in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

The Centre on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that 400 workers for redevelopment of the Central Vista Avenue were engaged “well before” the imposition of curfew in Delhi and the workers are staying at the site in accordance with the official guidelines regarding COVID-19 .

The court Tuesday said it will hear the petition, seeking a stay on Central Vista’s construction in wake of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi, on Wednesday

“A COVID compliant facility was installed at the worksite itself, to accommodate the 250 workers who had expressed their willingness to stay put and continue the aforesaid work. The facility provides for strict implementation of COVID appropriate behaviour,” said the government.

It also told the court that the contractor has provided for health insurance of all the workers concerned against COVID-19 and a separate facility for conducting RT-PCR test, isolation and medical aid has also been provided at site.

“It is submitted that as per para 8 of DDMA order dated 19.04.2021, construction activities during curfew are permitted where labourers are residing on-site,” the government further said.

The government also refuted the claim that any workers are brought from Sarai Kale Khan camp to the working site on a daily basis. The work at the Central Vista Avenue is to be completed by November 2021, it said. “It is unequivocally stated that the workers working on the project as of now, are residing at the work site, following social distancing norms as well as other COVID-19 protocols,” said the Centre further.

The petition filed by Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker, states that they are concerned by the “super spreading potential and threat” posed by the continuing construction at the project and the plight of the workers who are being exposed to the infection on a daily basis.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the petitioners, last week submitted before the division bench of Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh that they are in no manner seeking to overreach the judgement of Supreme Court and the prayer is limited to seeking an interim stay on the construction during the peak phase of pandemic.

“The petitioners are also questioning why or how the project constitutes an ‘essential service’ merely because some executive mandated contractual deadline has to be met,” it is contended in the petition. “In the current dismal scenario, this project has no feature of ‘essentiality’ for and/or of ‘service’ to the public at large.”

The government on Tuesday said the petitioner is a “sheer abuse of the process of law” and is “one more attempt to stall the project”. “Such attempts are going on since the inception of the project under one pretext or the other and in one name or the other,” it said, while seeking dismissal of the petition with exemplary costs.

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