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Apex environment body defers decision on Parliament revamp plan

An apex environmental screening committee has deferred a decision on clearance to the Parliament redevelopment project. This has been done on the grounds that there was a dispute, being heard in the Delhi High Court, regarding the land on which some of the proposed structures were to come up, a person privy to the meeting told .

‘Land-use change’

The petitioner in the Delhi High Court has pleaded that no environment clearance be given, as the alterations which are proposed will involve land-use change not in conformity with Delhi’s Master Plan. The petitioner also prayed that no permission be granted to cut trees for the expansion and renovation of the Parliament building, which is part of the Central Vista Redevelopment project and involves redeveloping the 3-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate in Lutyens’ Delhi.

‘As soon as possible’

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notice to the Ministry of Housing and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) seeking their stand on the petition and ordered that the decision of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) be conveyed to the court “as soon as possible”.

The revamp, which was announced in September, envisages a new triangular Parliament building that is targeted to be constructed by August 2022, when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day.

The CPWD applied to the environment ministry on February 12 as part of a formal process. In its application, the department sought permission to fell 194 trees and plant 250 new trees as compensation.

‘No cases pending’

The department had also asserted that there were no court cases pending against the project and/or the land. However, two petitions have been filed in the Delhi High Court against the Delhi Development Authority’s proposed land use change of several plots, including for the new Parliament. One of the plots had been earmarked for recreational use in the Master Plan for Delhi-2021, and the DDA had proposed changing it to “Parliament House” on December 20, 2019.

‘No problem on trees’

“The land use dispute has to be resolved before the EAC can take a decision,” the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. “However we don’t see a problem regarding the trees, given that the plan involves making good the losses,” the person added.

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