As the country's fight against lethal Coronavirus continues, in a shocking development, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has issued a notification for the Central Vista Redevelopment Project pegged at Rs 20,000 crore. The timing of such notification is highly questionable as the National COVID-19 Economic Task Response Force to asses a relief package is yet to be even constituted and the doctors across the country have already highlighted a severe shortage of medical equipment.

Although, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced Rs. 15,000 crore to develop health infrastructure, increase the number of beds, testing kits, and train health professionals but that seems like a drop in the ocean. Even a state like Kerala has announced a relief package of Rs. 20,000 crore to combat Covid-19 which has already affected more than 500 people, killing 10 in India.

rashtrapati bhawan
The Rashtrapati BhawanReuters/B Mathur

Modi government's hypocrisy 

The extraordinary gazette notification provides for the complete makeover of 90 acres of land earmarked as Zone D and Zone C in the Master Plan for Delhi 2021. The development plan is expected to be completed by 2024. As per a report in the Week, a cost of fixed ventilators used in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) is between Rs 2.80 lakh and Rs 9.3 lakh.

Similarly, portable ventilators cost between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 6.5 lakh. A basic calculation shows that of Rs. 20,000 crore allocated for the Central Vista revamp project, some 7.14 lakh ICU ventilators or 13.3 lakh portable ventilators of the cheapest kind can be made available.

Beating Retreat Ceremony
The illuminated Indian Defence Ministry (R), Presidential Palace (C) and Home Ministry are reflected in a bullet-proof screen during the "Beating the Retreat" ceremony in New Delhi.Reuters

The notification clearly shows the priority of the government in its fight against the Covid-19. When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was calling for 'Janta Curfew' on Sunday, his own party leaders and workers were gathering in huge numbers in Madhya Pradesh to prepare for Shivraj Singh Chauhan's swearing-in ceremony.

All these cunning game of power politics was happening despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that India may witness 30,000 deaths by the end of May if the current rate prevails.