Six Things You Need to Know About Central Vista’s New Parliament
What will the new Parliament look like? Where will it be? What’s the political significance of its expanded design?
(This article was originally published on 12 March 2020. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives in the backdrop of Supreme Court’s scheduled verdict on several petitions that challenge the redevelopment of New Delhi's Central Vista area on Tuesday, 5 January.)
After six years of construction, the building that India today knows as its Parliament was completed in 1927, realising the vision of Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. Now, under the proposed Central Vista Redevelopment plan, India is set to get a new Parliament building by July 2022.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the new Parliament building on 10 December. The project given to Tata Projects Limited is estimated to cost Rs 971 crore and the construction would complete by 2022.
However, the new building is not without its set of problems.
The Supreme Court – hearing legal challenges against the environment clearance and change in land use of the new Parliament – has expressed its discontentment with the way in which the ceremony was being conducted before the court had ruled on the case, but still allowed it to proceed.
Where will the new Parliament be built? What’s the political significance of its design? And how much is it going to cost? Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Where Will the New Parliament Be? What Will it Look Like?
The new Parliament will be constructed adjacent to the existing Parliament building. It will be triangular and will reportedly come up on 13 acres within the existing Parliament complex. Based on the design by HCP Design – the firm in-charge of the proposed Central Vista redevelopment – this is what the new Parliament will look like.
A new Parliament building is one of the main features of the Central Vista redevelopment project – which also includes a new Central Secretariat, a new PM’s residence and office, and a new Vice-President’s house.
2. What Will be Different in this New Parliament?
The new Parliament will be larger than the existing building. It will have space for 900 MPs – with 800 MPs for Lok Sabha and 100 MPs for Rajya Sabha – and enough space for a joint Parliament session of 1,350 MPs.
According to a presentation given by Bimal Patel, director of HCP Design, the new Parliament will also have a separate lounge for MPs, a VIP lounge, and office space for MPs. Here’s a sketch of the ground floor plan of the new Parliament, as shared by Bimal Patel in a talk at CEPT University in Ahmedabad.
Under the proposed new Parliament building, the space available to MPs will increase to 60cm by 60cm, with enough space for a desk and with each bench seating two MPs.
3. Why Do We Need Space for More MPs?
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Hardeep Puri argued for a new Parliament, saying that, “the number of Lok Sabha seats is likely to go up.” This likely increase in Lok Sabha seats could be due to delimitation. According to the Election Commission of India, the “present constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.”
Writing in a paper titled “India’s Emerging Crisis of Representation” for Carnegie, Milan Vaishnav and Jamie Hintson argue that by 2026, keeping in mind existing levels of representation, the “Lok Sabha would have to consist of 848 representatives.” The expanded design of the new Parliament could be a nod to a potential increase in MPs.
4. How Much Will the New Parliament Cost?
The new Parliament will cost Rs 776 crore, according to the CPWD’s application for environment clearance for the building.
5. There’s Also an Environmental Cost
But the cost of a new Parliament is not just financial. 194 trees will also be cut in the construction of the new Parliament. According to the CPWD’s application for environment clearance, there are 326 trees currently at the proposed project land. Apart from other vegetation, 194 trees will be cut or transplanted. The application also mentions plans to plant 250 trees to make up for the loss of trees during construction.
6. What Will Happen to the Old Parliament Building?
When HCP Design had first proposed a redesign of the Central Vista, they had said that the old Parliament will be converted into a museum which will show the history of modern India. In subsequent revisions of the design, it has been stated that the old Parliament will be used for some special functions. In a presentation at CEPT University, Bimal Patel has said that the existing Parliament building will be “appropriately retrofitted and meaningfully used in conjunction with the new facility.”
However, historians and architects have argued that no heritage studies or public consultations were conducted before the construction of a new Parliament was finalised.
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