The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the decks for the ambitious Central Vista Project, which covers a 3-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens’ Delhi, by upholding the environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use.
The Central Vista revamp, announced in September 2019, envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with a 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.
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 judgment 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. 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 top court’s verdict came on several pleas on the issue, including the one filed by activist Rajeev Suri, against various permissions given to the project by authorities including the grant of environmental clearance and the nod to change of land use.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building and the construction is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 971 crore.