The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the environmental clearance and notification for change in land use for Central Vista Project. A three-judge bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, by 2:1 majority, held that the grant of environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use for the project was valid.
Justice Khanwilkar, writing the judgement for himself and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, also directed that the project proponent set up smog tower and use anti-smog guns at the construction site for the Central Vista project. The bench added that after the project is completed, smog tower be installed in the area.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the third judge on the bench, also agreed on the issue of award of project. He, however, disagreed with the judgment on change of land use and on grant of environmental clearance for the project.
In the majority verdict, the apex court said that prior permission shall be taken from heritage conservation committee and other relevant authorities before start of construction at new sites
On the aspect of change in land use, Justice Khanna said it was bad in law and there was no disclosure for public participation on the issue.
The Central Vista revamp, announced in September, 2019 envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs, that is to be constructed by August, 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day. The common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024 under the project against which various pleas have been filed.
On December 7, last year the top court had allowed the Centre to proceed with the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Central Vista project on December 10 after the government assured it that no construction or demolition work would commence till the apex court decides the pending pleas on the issue. Centre had told the bench that there would be only foundation stone-laying ceremony, and no construction, demolition or felling of trees would be done for the project as of now.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone on December 10, last year, for the new Parliament building and the construction is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 971 crore, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had said on December 5, last year.
In November 2020, the apex court had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas which have raised questions over the Centre’s ambitious Central Vista project, which covers three km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens’ Delhi.
According to the Centre’s argument in the top court, the project will save money which is paid as rent for housing central government ministries in the national capital. It had submitted that the decision to have a new Parliament building has not been taken in haste and no law or norms have been violated in any manner for the project.