mandag 31. mai 2021

Does Indian PM Narendra Modi really need a new house?

Rajpath (King's Avenue), in the centre of the Indian capital, is to Delhi'ites what Central Park is to New Yorkers, or the Champs-Elysees to Parisians. The manicured lawns on either side of the wide ceremonial boulevard are a place for thousands to gather to soak up the winter sun or have an ice-cream on summer evenings. But the 3km (1.8 mile)-long road, stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, at one end to the India Gate war memorial at the other, now resembles a massive dust bowl. The area is dotted with craters and mounds of earth - barricades stop people from getting close to men in reflective vests and yellow hard hats who are laying sewage pipes and tiled footpaths. A sign warns against taking photos and videos.

The work is part of the Central Vista project - a vast redevelopment plan that includes a new parliament, new homes for the vice-president and prime minister and multi-storey office blocks. It's expected to cost upwards of 200bn rupees ($2.7bn; £2bn). The project has been mired in controversy since it was announced in September 2019, with critics saying the money could be better spent on people's welfare or cleaning up Delhi's air, which is among the filthiest in the world.