The Central Vista Project, according to environmentalists, poses a significant threat to the environment. Much civil society and environmental organisations have urged the government to halt the “ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project” at least until the pandemic is over.

On Wednesday, 65 organisations issued a statement urging the central government to halt the Rs 13,450 crore project and redirect all available resources to deal with the pandemic.

According to the statement, the Covid-19 outbreak has shown that human health and the environment are inextricably linked.

For the construction of three office buildings under the Central Vista redevelopment project, the Environment Ministry’s Regional Empowered Committee (REC) has, in principle, approved the proposal for the diversion of 8.11 hectares of land, where the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) once stood. This land is classified as ‘deemed forest’ land and the final approval for the diversion of forest land is said to be granted by the central government.

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The proposal was recommended by the Delhi government for the approval of the REC and was quoted as, “in the larger public interest, subject to the conditions laid by the forest department.”

The site has over 250 trees per hectare and was treated as ‘deemed forest’ for that. Hence, approval for a division of non-forest activity was required, under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

Around 2,219 trees are said to be present at the site where the central Public Works Department seeks to transplant 1,734 trees and keep 485 trees.

It has been reported that the land for compensatory afforestation is to be made available to the Delhi Forest Department within 15 days of approval and compliance that is submitted to the Integrated Region Office (IRO), Jaipur. This newly available plot will be free of all encroachments and encumbrances.

  According to the ministry’s guidelines, at least 1000 saplings should plant per hectare on the identified non-forest land. This compensatory afforestation site is of an equivalent area that is set up near Dwarka, where at least 8,110 saplings will be planted. The work regarding compensatory afforestation is going to start only after the CPWD deposits Rs. 7.07 crore and hands over the required non-forest land to the forest department for plantation work.

Shashi A

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