A three-justice bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Centre’s exercise of powers under the DDA Act for the Central Vista project was “just and valid”. The bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna had reserved its verdict on the pleas in November last year.
The top court heard several pleas on the issue, including one filed by activist Rajeev Suri, against various permissions given to the project by authorities including the nod to change of land use.
The pleas also challenged the grant of a no-objection certificate by the Central Vista Committee (CVC) and also the environmental clearances for the construction of a new Parliament house building.
Delivering its verdict, the Supreme Court bench was quoted by ANI as stating, “The recommendations of environmental clearance by Ministry of Environment is just, valid and proper and we uphold the same.”
The Supreme Court ordered that smog guns be used during construction to track pollution and after project completion, smog towers be installed in the Central Vista area. Justice Sanjiv Khanna noted that he had a “different opinion” on the change in land use, though he agreed on the issue of award of the Central Vista project.
The Central Vista revamp, announced in September 2019, envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs, that is 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 under the project against which various pleas have been filed.
On December 7 last year, the Supreme 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 apex court decides the pending pleas on the issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament on December 10. Its construction is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 971 crore.
Opposition parties, such as the Congress, had vehemently objected to the Central Vista project, citing the adverse economic situation.
The Centre had earlier argued in the Supreme 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 was not taken in haste and no law or norms have been violated in any manner for the project.