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Indian prime minister continues $1.8 billion parliament revamp amid COVID-19 crisis

Indian prime minister continues $1.8 billion parliament revamp amid COVID-19 crisis
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India’s prime minister is pushing ahead with a $1.8 billion revamp of the parliament building amid record-breaking numbers of coronavirus cases in the country. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mammoth plan, the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, has been deemed an essential service involving thousands of workers around the building while most other construction has been halted amid the pandemic, CNN reported.

The construction, set to take place in the nation's capital of New Delhi, also includes a new home for the prime minister.

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The construction project would employ more than 46,000 people with the goal of completing parliament updates in November 2022, and the prime minister’s new home in December 2022.

However, the decision has prompted public outcry amid a pandemic that continues to ravage the South Asian country. Two citizens have brought a case to the Indian Supreme Court to halt construction, according to CNN.

The petition filed by the citizen’s attorney, Nitin Saluja, says the construction is not an essential service and could lead to more coronavirus cases.

News of the construction project comes as the country has set a daily record for the third time in a week, hitting more than 414,000 new cases in the past 24 hours. The country has also endured shortages of oxygen in hospitals, lack of personal protective equipment as well as a diminished vaccine supply. 

Countries like the U.S. and the United Kingdom have stepped in to send resources to the ailing country. 

Experts have blamed the lack of coronavirus restrictions and large crowds gathered with no masks as the catalyst for the latest coronavirus wave.

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"People are dying of Covid but [Modi's] priority is the Central Vista project," Yashwant Sinha, former minister of finance and external affairs for the country, tweeted. "Should we not be building hospitals instead? How much more price the nation must pay for electing a megalomaniac as PM?"

Modi defended his decision back in December.

"The launch of the construction of the Parliament House of India, with the idea of Indianness by Indians, is one of the most important milestones of our democratic traditions," Modi said. "We the people of India will construct this new parliament building together."