The Centre’s proposal to construct a new Parliament building was approved by the Delhi Urban Art Commission last week, on the same day that a member of the panel put in her papers on “personal grounds”, according to government officials.
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, whose construction arm, the Central Public Works Department, is carrying out the project, accepted architect Sonali Rastogi’s resignation as a part-time member of the DUAC on July 2, a notification issued that day said.
Ministry’s spokesperson Rajeev Jain said in a written response: “Resignation has been accepted on application for resignation quoting personal grounds.”
Asked about the approvals and timelines for the project, he said the “DUAC has approved the Parliament project” and that the construction would take around two years from start to finish , “subject to improvement of the COVID-19 situation. The CPWD has recently started the process for pre-qualification of contractors for the project, which is a part of its larger Central Vista redevelopment plan.
“The step of pre-qualification is based on security concerns. Only pre-qualified contractors will be provided details of building of Parliament,” he said.
Ms. Rastogi had been appointed to her second three-year term as a member of the commission, which is the government’s adviser on preserving the urban and environmental design aesthetic of Delhi, on April 3, 2018. The notification said Ms. Rastogi had submitted her resignation via email on July 1.
“Whereas, after careful examination and consideration, the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 5(1) and 5(3) of the Delhi Urban Art Commission Act, 1973 (1 of 1974), has accepted her resignation. Now, therefore, it is hereby notified that Ms. Sonali Rastogi has ceased to be a Member (Part-time) of Delhi Urban Art Commission with effect from 2nd July 2020,” it read.
Rastogi declines to comment
On July 1, the DUAC met to discuss the project, according to sources familiar with the matter. Ms. Rastogi had attended part of the meeting, before leaving early and emailing her resignation later that day, a source said. Ms. Rastogi declined to comment on the matter.
The DUAC had discussed the project and sent it back with comments , according to sources, on June 5. It has not made the minutes of the meeting, or of any meeting since May 29, public via its website. The CPWD’s consultant for the project, HCP Design, Planning and Management, told The Hindu on June 22 that the DUAC had asked for “additional details on provisions for landscape, parking, day-lighting and ventilation”.
The project was accorded environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the approval of the Central Vista Committee in April.
(With inputs from Sidharth Ravi)