The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to respond in three days to a petition challenging the proposed change in land use in some areas for the Central Vista project in Delhi, Bar and Bench reported.
The multi-crore project aims to redevelop a stretch at the heart of Lutyens Delhi. Of the Rs 20,000-crore sanctioned for the project, Rs 971 crore will be spent on a new Parliament building, and Rs 13,450 crore on new residences for the prime minister and the vice president.
The petitioner, Sanjay Suri, told the court that the government has proposed to change land use in plot one of the Central Vista area from “recreational” to “residential”, The Hindu reported.
“The change in land use will deprive residents of Delhi and citizens of India a vast chunk of highly-treasured open and green space in the Central Vista,” the petitioner said, according to the newspaper. “Right to life includes the right to enjoyment of a wholesome life.”
But, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said that the plot was meant for the prime minister and vice-president’s residences.
Justice AM Khanwilkar asked Mehta if the recreational space would be moved somewhere else. Mehta indicated that it may not be possible because of security concerns, The Hindu reported. “The Parliament, etc, is coming up nearby,” he said.
The Supreme Court asked the Centre to file an affidavit in matter. It will hear the case on October 29.
Amid the coronavirus crisis, most construction projects across Delhi were put on hold since the lockdown rules allowed only projects with workers staying on the site to operate.
However, an exception had been made for the Central Vista project, which was declared an “essential service”.
In June this year, the Delhi High Court had dismissed a petition arguing that the project be paused amid the pandemic. The court said that the Central Vista was an “essential project of national importance”.
The petitioners in the case approached the Supreme Court, but it refused to stay the Delhi High Court order.
Opposition leaders had also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suspend work on the Central Vista project in May, when the second wave of coronavirus was raging in India. They wanted the funds to be diverted towards purchase of oxygen and vaccines which were not sufficiently available at that time.