Environmental clearance to build a new Parliament building proposes cutting 194 trees

 The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has sought environmental clearance to build a new Parliament building, which it estimates will cost ₹776 crore and take 12,700 workers 260 days to construct, and lead to the cutting down of 194 trees, according to the application filed with the Union Environment Ministry. 

As part of the Centre’s proposed revamp of the Rajpath or Central Vista, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) applied for environmental clearance for the construction of a triangular Parliament building next to the existing heritage structure on February 12. It wrote: “Government of India plans to renovate the existing Parliament building and construct a new Parliament building adjoining the existing Parliament”.

The benefit of the project would be “social”, according to the CPWD, which justified it, saying: “A larger Parliament building for the nation is needed for better functioning of the legislature. The project will also provide short-term and long-term employment opportunities.”

The CPWD has sought permission to increase the built-up area on the 8-acre plot from 44,940 square metres to 1,04,740 square metres. The application says the total project cost would be ₹776 crore, of which ₹2.2 crore will be allocated for environment management, and a total of 8,60,738 tonnes of raw material or fuel would be needed. The application gives zero as the value of air, water, soil and noise pollution at the site. However, whether these studies are required or if the project will be exempted from an environment impact assessment will be decided by the environment impact assessment authority.

The CPWD said the project would lead to the generation of 438 kilolitre/day of waste water, which it said would all be reused. A total of 4.75 tonnes of municipal solid waste was projected to be generated and sent to sanitary landfills.

While the application proposes cutting down of 194 trees and clearing of “other vegetation growing” on the plot, it says 250 new trees would be planted. The application says there are no court cases pending against the project and/or the land. However, two petitions have been filed in the Delhi High Court against the Delhi Development Authority’s proposed land use change of several plots, including for the new Parliament. The plot had been earmarked for recreational use in the Masterplan of Delhi-2021, and the DDA proposed changing it to “Parliament House” on December 20, 2019.

The project is part of the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry’s plan to build a new Parliament and a new Common Central Secretariat for all Ministries and redevelop Rajpath. While heritage buildings such as Parliament and North and South Block will see a change of use, most office buildings, such as Shastri Bhawan and Krishi Bhawan, added post-Independence are set to be demolished. (Source: The Hindu)

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