The Centre told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that government offices located in or near the Central Vista cannot be said to fall within the “Central Vista Precincts”, Hindustan Times reported. Hence, they will not be considered for protection provided to heritage buildings.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta presented to the court an affidavit in this regard filed by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation. Mehta presented arguments in defence of the Centre’s action to approve change of land use for the Central Vista project.

“Only the Rajpath along with the green lawns and the water bodies on either side is designated as the Central Vista Precincts…this does not include any other offices located at Central Vista,” the affidavit said. It added that buildings such as Nirman Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Rail Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vayu Bhawan, etc cannot be termed heritage buildings as they are not in the list notified by the Centre in 2009.

Mehta however also told the court that Central Vista Precincts comprising Rajpath, along with the green lawns and water bodies on either side, will remain untouched in the proposed Central Vista Project. He said that the project will not hinder public access to the non-heritage buildings.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions that opposed the hurried manner in which the Centre gave approvals for the project. The petitioners said that the Parliament and surrounding structures have been classified as heritage structures and cannot be destroyed. The petitioners had also expressed their concern that once the new buildings are constructed, public access to the Rajpath, the adjoining lawns and nearby areas will be closed off.

The Central Vista Project has met with several objections. However, the court is only hearing petitioners and Centre on a limited aspect related to change in land use.

The 3-km-long Central Vista project stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate. The government’s project is aimed at making further changes to Parliament and the ministries over the course of four years. The Parliament will be internally restructured to accommodate many more legislators. However, there will be no external changes to the Parliament facade.

Gujarat-based company HCP Design, Planning and Management Private Limited had won the contract for the project in October last year. In June, the Supreme Court refused to stay the groundwork for the Rs 20,000-crore project on environmental grounds.