A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the environmental clearance and notification for change in land use for the Central Vista project, including the new Parliament building, but with some riders.
While Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari agreed to the grant of the environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use for the project, Justice Sanjiv Khanna disagreed with the judgment on change of land use and on grant of environmental clearance for the project. Justice Khanna, however, agreed on the issue of awarding of the project .
Justice Khanwilkar, writing the judgment for himself and Justice Maheshwari, also directed that the project proponent set up a smog tower and use anti-smoke guns at the construction site.
“We welcome the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court giving the go ahead for the ambitious Central Vista Project. Central Govt has always been sensitive to environmental concerns & will continue to adhere to the highest standards during the period of construction,” said Union minister for urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, soon after the verdict.
A total of five petitions had challenged various aspects of the project. These include the land-use change notification issued by the Delhi Development Authority (c) in 2019, the lack of public hearings before permitting a change in use and environmental concerns.
The Centre, on the other hand, argued that the Parliament building as well as several other government offices in the area were overcrowded and could not support requirements. In addition, the central government’s counsel also argued that the existing Parliament building was old and did not conform to fire safety norms.
However, Congress spokesperson Shama Mohamed said: “It is a travesty that when the government’s priority should have been to vaccinate every Indian as soon as possible, it prefers to splurge taxpayer money on a Rs 20,000-crore vanity project which won’t benefit the common man in the slightest!