The Executive Enclave, a part of the Central Vista project which will house the Prime Minister’s Office, the Cabinet Secretariat, the National Security Council Secretariat and India House, is yet to receive environment clearance from the Delhi State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
The issue is over the transplantation of trees and the need to retain more trees at the site, a source said. The State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), which considers these proposals before they are sent to the SEIAA for clearance, examined the Executive Enclave project proposal at its meeting on Saturday.
The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) had submitted its proposal for environment clearance in December last year. The committee cleared it first and then forwarded it to the SEIAA in April this year for clearance. According to the minutes of the meeting, the SEIAA, however, sent it back to the committee, and asked it to examine the implementation of the Tree Transplantation Policy and ensure that all points of the policy are complied with, considering “substantial tree transplantation” is involved. The CPWD wrote to the committee in June, urging it to re-recommend the project to the SEIAA for clearance “as it is the prestigious project of national importance”.
There are 807 trees present at the site, out of which 320 trees will be retained and 487 trees will be transplanted. This number was presented to the SEAC in March this year after the committee initially objected to 630 trees being removed, stating that an “excessively high proportion” of trees was being removed.
A sub-committee of the expert appraisal committee has now been constituted to make a site visit, examine the implementation of the Tree Transplantation Policy and “options for reviewing the site plan in order to retain trees”, according to the minutes of the meeting held on Saturday. The committee noted that the Transplantation Policy requires efforts to preserve existing trees by incorporating them in the site plan. The minutes also noted that the CPWD has agreed to re-examine the site plan, including shifting of the location of a helipad, in order to be able to retain additional trees at the site.
Existing vegetation at the site includes arjun, pilkhan and semal trees.
The Executive Enclave will comprise five buildings, and is set to cost Rs 1,316 crore for construction, operation, maintenance and housekeeping for five years, according to the tender documents. A CPWD official said that the tender process was underway for the enclave. “The financial bid stage is complete and needs acceptance. The process is still underway,” the official said, confirming that environment clearance was yet to be received for the project.
The Cabinet Secretariat will be close to Moti Lal Nehru Marg, near Vayu Bhawan. The National Security Council Secretariat Building will be close to Kamraj Road. The proposed Executive Enclave will be close to where South Block currently is.