New Delhi, Nov 3 (PTI) The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Central Vista project, covering three-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens' Delhi, would “save money” which is paid as rent for housing Central government ministries in the national capital.
It submitted that the decision to have a new parliament building has not been taken in a haste and no law or norms have been violated in any manner for the project.
The centre said new parliament building is needed as numerous occupants have indicated the inadequacies in the existing one.
Opposing the petitions which have raised questions over several aspects including the environmental clearance (EC) granted to the project, solicitor general Tushar Mehta told a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that having all the ministries at one place would increase the efficiency and ensure better coordination between them.
The law officer submitted before the bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, that structure of existing parliament building is not earthquake proof and the new parliament building would supplement the existing one.
“Even after 73 year of independence, the nation does not have a central secretariat. Various ministries have hired premises on rent. Thousands of crore of rent is paid for housing central government ministries. This project saves money,” the solicitor general said.
The revamp, which was announced in September last year, envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs, that is targeted 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.
During the arguments conducted through video-conferencing on Tuesday, Mehta said “as ministries are not at one place, cars have to run around the city from one ministry to another which results in traffic also.” “Having all ministries at one place will increase efficiency also,” he further said and added there would be interlinking of metro station and the end point would be under the secretariat which would minimise use of vehicles.
Stressing on the need to have a new parliament building, Mehta said the existing historical building would be retro-fitted.
He said no separate independent study was required for deciding that a new parliament building is needed as numerous occupants have indicated the inadequacies in the existing one.
“If the petitioners concern is regarding any environmental issue, then it has been fully taken care of,” he said, adding that no law or norms have been violated in any manner for the project.
The arguments in the matter remained inconclusive and would continue tomorrow.
The apex court is hearing several pleas on the issue, including the one filed by activist Rajeev Suri, against various permissions given to the project by the authorities including the nod to change of land use.
Earlier, the top court had said that any change at the ground level made by authorities for the Central Vista project will be 'at their own risk'.
It had made it clear that the fate of the project, which includes several new government buildings and a new Parliament House, will depend on its decision.
The pleas have 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.
One of the pleas was filed against a Delhi High Court order which had said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was not required to apprise it before notifying changes in the Master Plan to allow the Central Vista project.
The division bench of the Delhi High Court had on February 28 stayed an order of its single judge bench which had asked the DDA to approach the court before notifying any change in the Master Plan for going forth with the Centre's ambitious project to redevelop the Central Vista.
The high court’s stay order on the single judge bench's February 11 direction had come on the intra-court appeal of the DDA and the Centre.
The petitioners before the high court had opposed the Central Vista project on the ground that it involves a change in land use of the green area adjoining Rajpath and Vijay Chowk for building new Parliament and government offices.
Gujarat-based architecture firm HCP Designs has won the consultancy bid for the Centre's ambitious project to redevelop the Central Vista. PTI ABA MNL SJK ABA RKS RKS