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CPWD files affidavit in SC, bats for new Parliament building

<p class="p1">Justifying the need for a new Parliament building as part of the Central Vista Project, the CPWD has informed the Supreme Court that the existing building is "old and poor on energy efficiency and fails to meet contemporary fire safety norms".</p>
<p class="p1">The CPWD counter-affidavit filed in the apex court has also pointed out that the building is almost 100-year-old Heritage Grade-I one, pointing out that the building also does not satisfy the upgraded earthquake Zone IV provisions regarding safety of structures.</p>
<p class="p1">"Over the years, parliamentary activities and the number of people working therein and visitors have increased manifold. Therefore, it is showing signs of distress due to overutilization and is not able to meet the current requirement in terms of space, amenities and technology."</p>
<p class="p1">The CPWD said that after a detailed survey and assessment of the present facilities, it was decided to build the new Parliament building on Plot number 118 adjoining the existing Parliament building.</p>
<p class="p1">"The new Parliament building is being designed with better facilities, space and state-of-the-art technology, which will meet the current and future needs," said the affidavit.</p>
<p class="p1">"Moreover, the new Parliament building along with the existing one will be a part of the Parliament complex, and the Lok Sabha chamber will be almost 3 times the size of the present one.</p>
<p class="p1">"The Rajya Sabha chamber will be more than 4 times the existing one with state-of-the-art technology," the affidavit further pointed out.</p>
<p class="p1">The CPWD contended that construction of the new Parliament building was a necessity as accommodating more members in the existing building was not feasible.</p>
<p class="p1">The counter-affidavit was filed in response to a petition that challenged the project on the ground that there is allegedly an "illegal change in land use".</p>
<p class="p1">The petitioner has also raised the issues of environmental clearance to the project, as well as sought court directions to stay the Rs 20,000-crore Central Vista Project.</p>
<p class="p1">The apex court has, so far, declined to stay the project.</p>
<p class="p1">The Centre denied the petitioner's contention about the investment of Rs 20,000 crore, saying that the expenditure is likely to be made in about 6 years and that no heritage building is proposed to be dismantled. In fact, these will be retrofitted to increase their life, the CPWD contended.</p>
<p class="p1">The CPWD averred that the environmental clearance for the expansion and renovation of the Parliament building has been granted by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change based on the recommendation of Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) by following the due process of law.</p>
<p class="p1">"The existing trees will be transplanted, and the proposed 9.54 acres of the compensatory green area will add to the number of trees. The respondent (CPWD) will also implement measures necessary for environmental protection as prescribed by the National Green Tribunal," said the affidavit.</p>
<p class="p1">The CPWD said that the expansion and renovation of the existing Parliament building does not require public consultation as per the extant EIA notification in force since September 14, 2006.</p>
<p class="p1">However, all the representations and objections to the proposals were duly considered by the EAC before recommending the grant of clearance.</p>
<p class="p1">The project's plan has been prepared to keep in mind India's 75th Independence Day in 2022. The work on the Central Vista project is slated for completion by November 2021.</p>
<p class="p1">The Central Vista houses iconic buildings like Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the North and South Block buildings housing important ministries, and also the India Gate.</p>
<p class="p1">The Centre proposes to redevelop the Central Vista by constructing a new Parliament House, a new residential complex housing the Prime Minister and the Vice-President, besides several new office buildings.</p>.