Supreme Court Allows India to Build a New Parliament, a Win for Modi
A statue of B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of India’s constitution, stands outside of Parliament House in New Delhi. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Allows India to Build a New Parliament, a Win for Modi

India’s Supreme Court allowed the federal government to build a new parliament, a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose legacy will include the ambitious development.

The court said the project did not violate the environment or land use norms. The government plans to redevelop a part of the city housing government buildings and the prime minister’s residence. One of the three judges on the panel expressed concern over lack of public consultation before the project’s clearance.

However, a heritage conservation panel will decide on the renovation of the central vista area before construction, according to the judgment.

The verdict is a relief for the government after the court in December temporarily halted the project. It will help the administration blunt criticism from the opposition who have attacked Modi for spending an estimated 9.7 billion rupees($130 million) on the new parliament building at a time when the economy is in recession. The cost including other buildings totals to $1.84 billion, according to minutes of a meeting of a government’s environment panel assessing the project.

The spending invited criticism as the the country’s economy contracted for two straight quarters in 2020 while millions are being pushed into poverty amid the coronavirus pandemic. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had defended the project saying the vision was to save billions of public money with the better coordination and efficiency among government departments while replacing the century-old buildings with modern and efficient workspaces.

Tata Projects Ltd. won a contract to build the new parliament building, Press Trust of India reported in September, citing officials it didn’t name.

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