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Green nod to Rs 922 crore new Parliament complex

Green nod to Rs 922 crore new Parliament complex

NEW DELHI: A green nod has been given to construction of the new Parliament building at a cost of Rs 922 crore- the environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal committee cleared the controversial project in its April 22-24 meeting.

Meanwhile, the Central Vista committee also approved the new plan- which has been strongly opposed by civil society organisations and opposition parties.

The green signal to the mega project in the national capital- given with the usual caveats on minimised tree cutting, environmental responsibility and so on- comes even as a Special Leave Petition related to land use change for the new complex is pending before the Supreme Court.

The SC also this week refused to stay the Central vista redevelopment project.

The expert panel of the environment ministry has said the clearance for the project to build a new Parliament is subject to the apex court’s decision.

On an observation on the necessity of constructing a new Parliament building amidst the Current Health Emergency in the Country’’, CPWD has responded saying that the existing Parliament Building was constructed 93 years ago and is in ‘dire need of retrofitting’’ and that development of a new building is of utmost importance’.

“ Over the years many planned / unplanned changes have been made, often undocumented. It is in dire need of retrofitting as soon as possible. This can only be done once the Building is in vacant position and that will happen once the new Building is made available. Therefore, development of the proposed Parliament Building is of utmost importance”, the CPWD has said.

The department has further justified the increase in project cots form Rs 776 crore to Rs 922 crore citing changes in project specifications which have been approved after the application submission’’.

The CPWD has said that it had indicated a tentative cost of Rs. 776 crores, based on initial concept plan prepared by Consultant and later had to add specific requirements of the end-users: in this case the Lok Sabha Secretariat, Rajya Sabha Secretariat and Security Agencies etc.

“After detailed deliberation with all stakeholders the Consultant modified the concept plan with built up area as 65,000 Sqm and accordingly tentative cost has been increased. The cost of Rs. 922 Crore has therefore been arrived based on revised built up area in consultation with user agencies”, the CPWD has argued in its submission from the EAC.

The department has further justified the delinking of the projects to build a new parliament building and the Central vista citing their different functions.

“The proposed Parliament Building essentially carries out Legislative functions, which is separate from Executive Functions to be carried out in other office buildings and therefore cannot be considered as an integrated and inter-related project vis-à-vis the other proposed central vista buildings for the simple reason that it can definitely operate independently of the other structures”, it adds.

“The redevelopment of the other Central Vista buildings is a distinct activity as opposed to the expansion and renovation of the Parliament”, the CPWD has said pointing also to their different scale and size among other aspects.

The department has also maintained that construction of the new complex will not lead to an “air pollution beyond existing levels “ and may see a potential decrease as state of the art and low or no emission vehicles get introduced over time.

Majority of the impacts of the combined structure are already occurring at the site. The expansion of the new Parliament Building will lead to environmental impacts, that are, if at all, minor and incremental, it says.

“ The project proponents are aware of the heritage value of the Parliament Building. It is precisely because of the need to protect its heritage value, besides other practical aspects such as seating more members for the future and providing them with necessary infrastructure, that the project has been conceived. Once the Parliament expansion is carried out as proposed, the proposed project aims to undertake necessary structural and other activities required to sustain the existing Parliament Building for use by future generations of Indians”, it has been submitted.

With regards to cultural, landscape and other values, it has already been clarified that the proposed Parliament Building expansion will be necessarily reviewed and approved prior to construction by both the DUAC and the Central Vista Committee which have been specifically tasked and mandated with this work, the CPWD has sought to clarify.

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