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Central Vista: SC allows petitioners to file plea challenging environmental clearance

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed environmental groups and petitioners to file fresh pleas to challenge the June 17 environmental clearance granted to the Central Vista redevelopment project, under which a new Parliament House and other Ministry buildings will be constructed across the 3-km stretchin Lutyens’ Delhi.

The three-judge top court bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, along with Dinesh Maheswari and Sanjiv Khanna, has have given a week’s time to environmental groups and petitioners to file their writ pleas challenging the Central Vista Committee’s environmental clearance to the redevelopment project. Furthermore, the Centre has been allowed to file a response to their petitions within a week. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on August 17.

The SC bench heard the arguments of senior advocate Shyam Divan opposing the grant of environmental clearance to the Central Vista project. Divan stated that a piecemeal approach was adopted for the multi-crore project that raises several legal questions, maintaining that to get the EC, the entire project is required to be registered as a township project.

Contesting against Divan’s arguments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre, affirmed that the project is being carried out in national interests and that the government is not dealing with private industry during its implementation.

In the wake of the pandemic restrictions, the Supreme Court has been holding case hearings through video-conferencing.

The bench also pointed out that there were two other petitions raising environmental issues related to the project in addition to the fresh plea on environmental clearance which will be governed by SC orders.

This development has come after the Central Vista Committee (CVC) issued a no-objection certificate and environmental clearances to the Central Vista project for the construction of a new parliament house building. Announced in September 2019, the Central government’s plan to redevelop the area is slated to be completed by November 2021. With an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 crores, the project has raised several eyebrows and invited a flurry of debate among the people.

The Centra Vista is a historic 3-km stretch running from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in the heart of New Delhi. Surrounded by large green spaces, it houses some of the iconic buildings in the national capital including the Parliament House, North and South block buildings, the National Archives among other structures.

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