Govt submits fresh application seeking green nod for new Parliament building, revises cost
The renovation of the existing Parliament building will now include a “condition survey” to assess the structure of the building, structural strengthening and renovation of interiors and utilities, according to the new application.Updated: Apr 13, 2020 23:52 IST
The Centre has sent a revised application for environment clearance for the new Parliament building to the environment ministry after the issue was deferred last month by the expert appraisal committee (EAC) on infrastructure.
In the application, reviewed by the Hindustan Times, the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs’ construction arm, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), said the project cost for the new Parliament building has increased from Rs 776 crore to Rs 922 crore “due to changes in specifications which have been approved after the application submission”.
The EAC is scheduled to take up the issue on April 22.
The renovation of the existing Parliament building will now include a “condition survey” to assess the structure of the building, structural strengthening and renovation of interiors and utilities, according to the new application.
“There will be no adverse impact due to construction activities on existing structures and suitable precautions will be accordingly made…There are several ASI regulated archaeological sites present within the study area. However, none of them will be impacted due to the project activities since their regulated boundaries are outside the project site,” it said, addressing concerns raised over the project.
“Transportation of raw material will cause impacts for the short-term only. Barricading will be provided all around the construction site. Air pollution will be minimised by water sprinklers and by covering the vehicles during transport,” the application further said.
Trucks used for transport will be “thoroughly checked for emission parameters” and properly maintained, and transportation of raw materials will be avoided during peak hours to reduce traffic load, it added.
Hindustan Times had reported on March 9 the Centre’s original application for environmental clearance for the new Parliament complex had been deferred by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC).
The expert appraisal committee (EAC) on infrastructure under the ministry met on February 25 to review the CPWD’s proposal seeking green clearance for the new Parliament building.
The EAC cited pending court cases related to the project as one of the reasons for deferring the application. It also noted the project would provide a “larger Parliament building for the nation for better functioning of the legislature” but added CPWD needs to meet a slew of conditions before the proposal could be reconsidered.
This also comes at a time when almost all opposition parties have urged Prime Mnister Narendra Modi to shelve the project and instead spend the money on advancing the fight against Covid-19.
The Centre had on March 20 notified the change in land use for more than 86 acres in Lutyens’ Delhi that currently house some of India’s landmark buildings such as the Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan, and North Block and South Block to expedite completion of the ₹20,000-crore Central Vista redevelopment project.
The land use change was notified even as a petition challenging the project was pending in the Supreme Court. In March, the apex court transferred all writ petitions filed in the Delhi high court challenging the Central Vista project to itself.
A fresh writ petition was filed in April in the Supreme Court to quash the Centre’s notification seeking the land use change. The petition, reviewed by Hindustan Times, alleges “it can be deduced that under the guise of redeveloping Central Vista the real intention is to monetise the invaluable commercial component that will emerge as a result of ‘redevelopment’”.
“Most ironically, the very tenets required in the tender New Master Plan was flouted in the tendering processes which was opaque, non- transparent, and completed within a period of 45 days, leaving the citizens of India and Delhi bewildered at the blitz of awarding a tender for Rs 20,000 crores,” the petition states.
The Centre had set November 2021 as the deadline for completing the Central Visa project. Work on the new Parliament complex was to be completed by March 2022 and the common Central Secretariat by March 2024. The plan could face delays due to the Covid-19 lockdown as the project was scheduled to be tendered in April.
Officials involved in the project, however, say the lockdown won’t disrupt plans as most of the work for the detailed project report has been completed.
“CPWD and the ministry, as well as all the on-board consultants, are able to effectively work digitally through this lockdown period. The design of the Parliament building sufficient for issuing tenders was already complete. The detailed design was to run concurrent with the selection of the contractor. This will go through as planned since work on the tenders is ongoing, so that it can be issued post-lockdown,” the official said requesting not to be named.