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ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY GIVES NOD FOR NEW PARLIAMENT PROJECT

Why in news?

The Centre’s proposal to construct a new Parliament building next to the existing heritage structure was approved by the Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC).

The EAC, however, said the approval was subject to the outcome of a legal challenge to the change of land-use of the plot, according to the minutes of the meeting.

Background

  • The Central Public Works Department’s (CPWD) proposal for “expansion and renovation of the existing Parliament building at Parliament Street” was among the projects considered by the EAC at its meetings on April 22-24.
  • Once the Parliament expansion is carried out as proposed, the proposed project aims to undertake necessary structural and other activities required to sustain the existing Parliament building for use by future generations of Indians.
  • The existing Parliament building was constructed 93 years ago. Over the years many planned/ unplanned changes have been made, often undocumented. It is in dire need of retrofitting as soon as possible.
  • The project would not lead to any increase in air and noise pollutions and the water consumption would decrease due to reuse of treated water, the EAC minutes stated.

Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)

  • Expert appraisal committees (EAC) exist at the Union as well as state levels (state expert appraisal committee or SEAC) to advise the government on environmental clearance of development projects.
  • Directions issued by the Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) are applicable to committees at both the levels.
  • The role of EAC is integral to the process of granting environmental clearance to development projects.
  • According to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, evaluation of proposals involves four steps:
    • Screening
    • Scoping
    • Public hearing
    • Appraisal
  • EAC/SEAC are involved in various capacities in all the stages, except for public hearing.

Central Public Works Department (CPWD)

  • The Central Public Works Department of India is a premier Central Government authority in charge of public sector works.
  • The CPWD, under the Ministry of Urban Development now MoHUA (Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs), deals with buildings, roads, bridges, flyovers, complicated structures like stadiums, auditoriums, laboratories, bunkers, border fencing, border roads (hill roads), etc.
  • CPWD came into existence in July 1854 when Lord Dalhousie established a central agency for execution of public works and set up Ajmer Provincial Division.
  • It has now grown into a comprehensive construction management department, which provides services from project concept to completion, and maintenance management.
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