Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday came down strongly against 60 ex-civil servants, referring to them as ‘Padhe Likhe Murkh’, for endorsing an open letter that called for the halting of the Central Vista revamp project. The list of the ex-civil servants who signed the letter includes Harsh Mander, Ajai Kumar, Jawhar Sircar, Julio Ribeiro, Jawhar Sircar, along with 55 other former bureaucrats.
The open letter that Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri trashed yesterday was first published in May 2020. In the letter, over 60 retired IAS and IPS officers, including two former secretaries in the environment ministry, exhorted the Modi government to not go ahead with its Central Vista Project, highlighting that there were “major flaws” in the planning and execution of permission required for the Rs 20,000 crore project.
The former civil servants had also alleged that the Modi government had given its approval for the Central Vista project because of a “superstitious belief” that the present Parliament building was too ‘unlucky’.
In the letter, the bureaucrats had said, “There is a great deal wrong with the conceptualization of the project. Rather than establishing the necessity of the project with sound prior studies on environmental and technical parameters, this project began, if reports are to be believed, because of a superstitious belief that the present Parliament building is ‘unlucky’, as well as with the thought of leaving a particular government and its leader’s impress on the architecture of Delhi.”
This contention had raised the hackles of the Union Minister, who laid into the former bureaucrats and called them a bunch of uneducated fools. He said being retired civil servants with decades of experience, these former bureaucrats should not have believed the reports in the first place and should have looked for the facts. He said, “These are not educated fools but a disgrace to the country.” He further added, “I will not put my signatures on a letter that talks about superstitious belief.”
While the Times of India report did talk about the letter signed by 60 ex-civil servants against the Central Vista project, it did not mention the list of the signatories. Another report about the same letter was published in The Hindu on the same day on which the Times of India report was published, that is, on 17 May 2020. The article published in The Hindu talks about the 60 former bureaucrats who called the Modi government to stop its ambitious Central Vista project. In addition, it also included the list of signatories who had endorsed the letter.
Here’s the complete list of signatories who signed the open letter asking the central government to stop the Central Vista project
Anita Agnihotri, V.S. Ailawadi, Shafi Alam, K. Saleem Ali, S.P. Ambrose, Vappala Balachandran, Gopalan Balagopal, Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, Sharad Behar, Aurobindo Behera, Madhu Bhaduri, Sundar Burra, Tishyarakshit Chatterjee, Anna Dani, Vibha Puri Das, P.R. Dasgupta, M.G. Devasahayam, Sushil Dubey, K.P. Fabian, Arif Ghauri, Gourishankar Ghosh, Suresh K. Goel, Meena Gupta, Ravi Vira Gupta, Kamal Jaswal, K. John Koshy, Ajai Kumar, Sudhir Kumar, P.K. Lahiri, Subodh Lal, Harsh Mander, Amitabh Mathur, Aditi Mehta, Sonalini Mirchandani, Avinash Mohananey, Deb Mukharji, Nagalsamy, P.G.J. Nampoothiri, Amitabha Pande, Alok Petri, R. Poornalingam, C. Babu Rajeev, Julio Ribeiro, Aruna Roy, Deepak Sanan, S. Satyabhama, A. Selvaraj, Abhijit Sengupta, Aftab Seth, Ashok Kumar Sharma, Navrekha Sharma, Raju Sharma, Tirlochan Singh, Jawhar Sircar, Narendra Sisodia, Parveen Talha, Thanksy Thekkekera, P.S.S. Thomas and Hindal Tyabji.
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri blasts at former bureaucrats for opposing Central Vista Project
On May 31, Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri held a press conference on the Central Vista project. Towards the end of the conference, the minister marked his objection on one of the statements that were made in an ‘open letter’ by former bureaucrats last year that has been making rounds on social media platforms.
He urged those who are raising questions over the central vista project to at least visit the parliament once and see how difficult it is to sit there due to lack of space. He said, “The parliament was designed for fewer people. We are making a bigger parliament building for the people of India.” He further said, “I think some of these guys need to have their head examined before they sign letters like this.”
Puri said they are saying that it was an open letter but he was never made aware of the letter before. It was only on May 31 when he came to know about the contents of the letter. However, it has been making rounds on social media. He further raised question over the alleged news portals that have popped up recently and said, “I do not know what agenda they have but they need to get their facts right.”
Referring to them as ‘vidvaans’ (intelligent, learned folks), he said that their contention that the new Central Vista will deprive people of the open space which works as an inexpensive place for recreation is misplaced. “Once the Central Vista Avenue redevelopment is complete there will be even more space for recreation & for Mummy, Daddy & Pappu to have ice cream there,” he said.