The Delhi State Environment Impact Assessment Authority has finally given the go-ahead for the construction of a new executive complex as a part of the Central Vista project. The project, which will house the new prime minister’s office and Cabinet Secretariat, was awaiting environmental clearance for a long time. The Delhi State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) had last week recommended that the SEAA give its approval for the project. The agency discussed the issue on Wednesday and gave its approval. On August 23, the Forest Department granted permission to the public works department to plant 487 trees at the site.
The Central Public Works Department submitted its environmental clearance proposal for the Executive Enclave project in December last year. After the committee cleared it, it was forwarded to SEAA for further consideration. However, in April this year, the agency sent it back to the committee to review the implementation of the tree transplantation policy.
The SEAC, which is responsible for reviewing the environmental clearance proposals, has recently formed a sub-group to look into the implementation of the Delhi Government’s tree transplantation policy. In December 2020, the government issued a notification requiring agencies to plant at least 80 percent of the trees that are affected by their projects.
In its report, the committee noted that a tree survey was not carried out at the time of project feasibility assessment and site identification. SEAd has also raised concern over the CPWD’s plan to remove an “excessively high proportion” of trees from the site and asked for retaining green cover in the area.
After Public Works Department modified the proposal, the SEAC decided to recommend the approval of the project’s environmental clearance to the SEAA. The revised proposal reduced the number of trees that the agency would be able to transplant to 487 from 630 and increased the number of trees that it would be able to retain at the site to 154 to 320.
The SEAA, however, decided to refer the matter back to the committee to review the implementation of the tree transplantation policy.
The revised proposal of the Public Works Department stated that it would maintain 1,022 trees at the site of the project, which is located in New Delhi. It would also have a tree for every 80 square meters of the plot area according to the guidelines of the Union Environment Ministry.
CPWD plans to construct five buildings at the site, which will have a total built-up area of 90,000 square meters. The demolition of the existing structures will also be carried out.
The project, which is part of the Central Vista project, involves the construction of a new parliament building, a common central secretariat, and a new residence for the prime minister. It also involves the revamping of the Rajpath from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhavan.