When put forth a question in the Rajya Sabha regarding the possibility of environmental clearance for an alteration in the Central Vista project in the national capital, the Government on Thursday skirted the issue with a roundabout answer.
Rajya Sabha member Jawahar Sircar had asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) whether the government is aware of the extent of environmental change in the permeable surface due to radical increase in area devoted to parking and the addition of a u-shaped connecting underground rail with the adjacent metro station, which necessitates environmental clearance (for the Central Vista project)?
Minister of State in the MoEF&CC Ashwini Kumar Choubey answered: "Environmental sustainability is at the core of the development/redevelopment of Central Vista and the overall green cover within the Central Vista area will increase. Parking area is also provided with grass pavers and there will not be any major reduction of permeable surface. Plan for underground metro connectivity is currently at planning stage."
The answer mention that there "will not be any major reduction of permeable surface" but did not specify how much.
More so over, by stating that the underground metro connectivity is currently at planning stage, it skirted the issue of environmental clearance altogether.
However, to Sircar's query whether any specific environmental clearance has been obtained from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for the major changes envisaged by the avenue development along Rajpath lawns, road, and entire public landscape as part of the Central Vista project, the Minister said, "As per the information provided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) & Central Public Works Department (CPWD), no specific Environmental Clearance is required for redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue as total built-up area proposed is less than 20,000 sq mt."