The environment ministry's expert appraisal committee has recommended granting environment clearance to the government's ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project, but directed that its developer should ensure no air pollution is caused during the demolition of existing structures.
With the expert panel's recommendations, the project comes a step closer to getting the environment clearance (EC), to be given by the Union Environment Minister.
The expert appraisal committee (EAC) took the decision in a meeting held on December 17, the minutes of which were uploaded on the ministry's website on Monday.
The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) is executing the project which includes development/redevelopment of Common Central Secretariat Buildings and Central Conference Centre, along with Prime Minister's Residence, SPG Building and Vice President's Enclave.
It has revised the estimated project cost from Rs 11,794 crore to Rs 13,450 crore.
According to the minutes of the EAC meeting, the CPWD said that it will cover the impact of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for holistic coverage of overall impacts, which means a new PMO will also come up under the Central Vista redevelopment project.
In its earlier proposal, the CPWD had not mentioned the construction of a new PMO.
It had written a letter to the expert panel recently, saying that the impact of the proposed PMO will be included in the EIA report.
The expert panel said that it has deliberated upon the information provided by the CPWD and found that 'the project is now integrated in nature. After detailed deliberation, EAC recommended granting Terms of Reference'.
While granting Terms of Reference (ToR), the panel asked the developer to provide 'detailed demolition plan along with mitigative measures, include details of proposed strategy for management of construction and demolition (C&D) waste and efforts must be made for instant demolition of latest technique in place of extended demolition to avoid air pollution during demolition process'.
With the ToR having been granted, the CPWD now has the go-ahead to draw up the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Environment Management Plan (EMP) reports and submit it to the environment ministry for final approval.
The redevelopment project of Central Vista -- the nation's power corridor -- envisages a new triangular Parliament building, a common central secretariat and revamping of the three-km-long Rajpath from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
The proposed development/redevelopment is coming up over a total plot area measuring 5,48,776 square metre, the expert panel was told.
There will be a total built-up area of 17,21,500 square metre and the area to be demolished is 4,58,820 square metre, the panel noted.
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Shastri Bhavan, Krishi Bhavan, Vigyan Bhavan, VP Residency, National Museum, Jawahar Bhavan, Nirman Bhavan, Udyog Bhavan, Raksha Bhavan, and INS Hutments are likely to be razed for the new project.
While granting the ToR, the expert panel asked CPWD to also carry out, in its EIA report, the assessment of traffic densities and parking capabilities within five km radius from the site.
'A detailed traffic management and a traffic decongestion plan drawn up through an organisation of repute and specialising in Transport Planning shall be submitted with the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).
'The Plan shall also include the consent of all the concerned implementing agencies,' the committee said.
During the meeting, the project developer told the expert panel that as the buildings are situated in a very sensitive area, adequate care and precaution will be taken to reduce noise and dust while ensuring appropriate safety.
'Buildings will be fully covered from all sides with appropriate staging/barricading and covering using appropriate green cloth or sheets for full building height so as to control and contain the dust/debris within the building premises,' the panel was told.
The panel accepted the submission of the developer that the project does not involve diversion of forest land which is why forest clearance was not required.
It also noted that the project site is not located within the eco-sensitive zone, hence wildlife clearance is also not required.
The proposed comprehensive refurbishment and augmentation of Central Vista will create new facilities for governance and public administration, render the public spaces easier to use and maintain, and will reduce disruptions caused to city traffic, the developer told the panel.
'The Central Conference Centre will cater to their conferencing needs. These will also be connected by a people mover to the Delhi Metro. Modern and secure residential facilities for the Vice President and the prime minister will be equipped with all necessary spaces and infrastructure, including the special protection group.
'The plan for comprehensively improving and augmenting Central Vista will strengthen governance infrastructure by building an efficient and sustainable Central Secretariat to house all the Ministries of the Government of India, a Central Conference Centre to cater to all conferencing needs across Ministries, well-equipped and adequate residences for the Vice President and the Prime Minister,' the developer told the panel.