Govt defends Central Vista undertaking in SC

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3

The Centre on Tuesday defended before the Supreme Court the Central Vista project, covering a three-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens” Delhi, saying it would “save money” paid as rent for housing Central government ministries in the national capital.

“Even after 73 year of independence, the nation does not have a central secretariat. Various ministries have hired premises on rent. Thousands of crore of rent is paid for housing central government ministries. This project saves money,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a three-judge Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar.

The Bench – which is seized of hearing several PILs, including the one by activist Rajeev Suri, against various permissions given to the project by the authorities including the nod to change of land use—would resume hearing on Wednesday.

The Central Vista redevelopment plan – which aims to free up 75 acre land in the heart of the capital – involves demolition of around 10 buildings, including Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, Vice-President’s House and Lok Nayak Bhawan. It is planned that a common central secretariat complex and a new Parliament building would be constructed.

Announced in September last year, it envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs, expected 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.

The Supreme Court had on April 30 refused to stay the project, saying there was no urgency.

Asserting that the decision had not been taken in haste and no law or norms had been violated in any manner for the project, Mehta said new parliament building was needed as numerous occupants had indicated the inadequacies in the present structure.

Rejecting the criticism from the petitioners who questioned the project over environmental clearance (EC) granted to the project and the historical value of the existing building, he said the existing parliament building was not earthquake proof and the new parliament building would supplement the existing one.

Having all the ministries at one place would increase the efficiency and ensure better coordination between them, he said, adding, “If the petitioners concern is regarding any environmental issue, then it has been fully taken care of.” 

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