Central Vista Project gets Supreme Court’s green signal
New Delhi, Jan 05: In a 2:1 verdict, the Supreme Court has allowed the Central Vista Project, including the new Parliament building to go on.
The court has however set several riders such as clearances from the Heritage Conservation Committee. The court held that the exercise of power under the Delhi Development Act should be made as Delhi Development Authority Act. The recommendations of the environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment is just, valid and proper and hence we uphold the same, the court also ruled.
The court however held that the approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee would be needed for the construction work to begin. The project proponents are required to get the approval from the committee, the court also added.
The order was passed by a Bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna.
Justice Khanna who wrote the dissenting verdict said, despite nationwide lockdown and objections, NOC was given to the project by the Central Vista Committee by way of a meeting held via video conferencing and without giving any reasons. The meeting was headed by ADG Works who has experienced only in road maintenance.
On December 7, last year the 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 court decides the pending pleas on the issue.
The 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.
The SC had earlier said that any change at the ground level made by authorities for the Central Vista project will be "at their own risk".
It had made it clear that the fate of the project, which includes several new government buildings and a new Parliament House, will depend on its decision.
On November 5, the 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.
The Centre had earlier argued in the top court that the project would "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.
The Centre had also said there was no arbitrariness or favouritism in selecting consultant for the project and the argument that the government could have adopted a better process cannot be a ground to scrap the project.
Gujarat-based architecture firm HCP Designs has won the consultancy bid for the project to redevelop the Central Vista.
One of the pleas was filed against a Delhi High Court order which had said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was not required to appraise it before notifying changes in the Master Plan to allow the Central Vista project.
The division bench of the Delhi High Court had on February 28 stayed an order of its single judge bench which had asked the DDA to approach the court before notifying any change in the Master Plan for going forth with the Centre's ambitious project to redevelop the Central Vista.
The stay order of the high court on the single-judge bench's February 11 direction had come on the intra-court appeal of the DDA and the Centre.
The petitioners before the high court had opposed the Central Vista project on the ground that it involves a change in land use of the green area adjoining Rajpath and Vijay Chowk for building new Parliament and government offices.