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Supreme Court’s green light for Central Vista Project

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday in a 2:1 verdict said the construction of the new parliament complex near Delhi’s India Gate can go ahead. The Apex Court’s nod came in response to several petitions that challenged permissions and clearances given to the Central Vista project of which the new parliament complex is a part.

“We hold that there are no infirmities in clearances given, change in land use,” a three-judge bench of the court said.

What is the Central Vista project?

The new parliament building is part of the Rs20,000-crore Central Vista project. The project aims to construct several new government buildings and refurbish old ones on the 4-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Delhi.

The Centre recently undertook the groundbreaking ceremony of the new parliament building but had assured the court that no construction activity will be undertaken till the judgment was delivered.

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The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing petitions that raised concerns over the No-Objection Certificate given by the Central Vista Committee. The petitions also challenged the environmental clearances and other permissions given for the project.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who differed from the majority view in some aspects, said the project was “bad in law” in terms of land use for two reasons. “There is no intelligible disclosure of public participation and no prior approval of the heritage conservation committee,” the judge said.

“I have sent the issue to the heritage conservation committee… we have not gone into the merits of the matter,” added the judge, who had agreed on the aspect of notice, award of consultancy, and the order of the Urban Commission.

Government’s stand

The Centre had defended the Central Vista project stating that the current British-era Parliament House opened in 1927 lacked space, fire safety, and was not earthquake-proof.

It also said that all central ministries need to be in one place to improve the efficiency of the government.

The Centre had also argued that the project was a policy decision and the court cannot interfere unless it violated fundamental rights.

The court also directed the Centre to set up smog towers “as an integral part of the Central Vista project and use environment friendly construction material.

 

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