Green nod to new Parliament plan

Times of India, May 02, 2020

NEW DELHI: Paving the way for a new Parliament building, the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the environment ministry has recommended granting green clearance to the project with some conditions, the main one being the outcome of a pending case in the Supreme Court. Congress criticised the government for pushing ahead with the project amid the novel coronavirus crisis, saying it showed the Centre’s “warped, distorted and completely absurd priorities”.

After going through the response from the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the EAC said, “Based on the information and clarifications provided by the proponent vis-a-vis mitigation measures for likely environmental impacts proposed by the proponent, the EAC appraised environmental aspects of the project and recommended for grant of environmental clearance with following specific conditions.”

Besides the outcome of the petition in the SC, the EAC has listed conditions including no cutting of trees, strict adherence to management of construction waste and enough provision for green space for the Rs 922 crore project.

According to the proceeding of the EAC meeting that took place between April 22 and 24, the CPWD rejected concerns over the government taking up the project during the Covid-19 emergency.

The Central Vista Committee, headed by a CPWD functionary, also gave “no objection” to the new Parliament while suggesting that the features of the new building should be “in sync” with the existing one.

Congress, however, was not impressed and said the move came at a time when the government had frozen dearness allowance of central government employees and suspended MPLADS for two years. The party attacked the government alleging it has “misplaced priorities” and “ill-conceived goals”. It said when the nation is fighting the pandemic the government wants to go ahead with the project.

Party functionary Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the country can get 15 lakh ventilators to fight Covid-19 with the amount planned to spend for the project. “It shows the warped, distorted and completely absurd priorities of this government. Bang in the middle of Covid-19, they are fast-tracking, hot-footing the project,” he said.

Calling the project the government’s “hobby horse” and the proposed buildings as “Modi-mahals”, Singhvi said, “It is the intention to leave in a personal manner your own stamp, by littering the green verdant landscape of Rajpath with new buildings in the name of modernization”.

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