The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC); has recommended granting of Environmental Clearance (EC) to the expansion and renovation of the existing Parliament building. The EAC, in its meetings held between April 22 to 24, recommended granting of clearance subject to conditions. One of them being that the project will be subject to the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court. It noted the absence of a stay on the project.
The new Parliament building is part of Centre’s ambitious Rs. 20,000 crore “Central Vista Project”, which is under challenge in an on-going case in the Supreme Court. This comes just a couple of days after the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay to the project; while hearing a petition challenging the change of land use by the government. For the Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista redevelopment project. The apex court opined that the project would not commence in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The EAC noted that “expansion of the new Parliament Building will lead to impact environment, that is, if at all, minor and incremental”. Civil society groups raised an objection that application treats the expansion of the Parliament as a stand-alone project when it is only one part of the proposed redevelopment of the Central Vista heritage precinct. However, the EAC argued that integrated and inter-related projects, as referred to in the ministry’s official memorandum, are that without which the functional outcome of the proposed project cannot be achieved; and that is not the case for the units of the Central Vista project.