- The Chhattisgarh government cancelled tenders for new assembly building
- Construction in the "Nava Raipur" area has now been stopped immediately
- The "Bhoomi pujan" for these projects was done last year
Bristling at accusations of doublespeak in its attack on the BJP government at the centre for spending crores on remodelling New Delhi's VIP zone in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, the Congress-led government in Chhattisgarh has put a similar project in the state on hold.
Announcing tougher measures to check the spread of COVID-19, the Chhattisgarh government on Thursday said it had cancelled tenders for the construction of the new assembly building and also stopped work on major projects in the state.
Construction of the new governor's house, assembly house, chief minister's house, residences of ministers and senior officers, new circuit house in the "Nava Raipur" area has now been stopped with immediate effect, a statement issued by the state government said.
The "bhoomi pujan" or groundbreaking ceremony for these projects was done last year.
"Our citizens - our priority. Foundation stone for the construction of new assembly building, Raj Bhavan, Chief Minister's residence, residences of ministers and senior officials, new circuit house was laid before start of Corona. Today, all these construction works have been stopped in these times of crisis," Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel tweeted in Hindi.
The announcement came two days after BJP chief JP Nadda wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi alleging "consistent negativity", duplicity and pettiness in her party's criticism of the government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Chhattisgarh government's projects were among the examples of hypocrisy that he cited after the opposition party hit out at the central government for carrying on the construction of the Central Vista project in Delhi that includes a new residence for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a new parliament.
The Congress was quick to seize Chief Minister Baghel's announcement and renew its attack on the central government for spending crores amid a shortage of vaccines, oxygen and other necessities, with senior Congress leader and MP Jairam Ramesh tweeting:
Dear PM @narendramodi— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 13, 2021
This how a responsive and responsible government works in a democracy. Chhattisgarh Govt is prioritising lives of its people above everything else and redoubling its efforts to fight COVID-19.
When will you learn and stop this Central Vista madness? https://t.co/j2hIrGFeoS
Among the worst-hit states in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Chhattisgarh currently has 1.22 lakh active COVID-19 cases and has reported 11,094 deaths, according to the union health ministry.
Announcing its decision to halt the construction projects, the state government said it had "instructed all departments on April 26 that, like the previous year, austerity should be exercised in the financial year 2021-22".
"Now, even further, on the instructions of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, the major construction works in Nava Raipur have been stopped with immediate effect," its statement said.
The chief engineer of the Public Works Department has issued orders to contractors to stop construction work on these projects, it added.
It said that along with this, "the previously issued tenders for the construction of -- Rs 245.16 crore and Rs 118 crore -- works for the construction of the new assembly building in Sector-19 have been cancelled with immediate effect".
(With inputs from PTI)