PM Lays Foundation Of New Parliament: What Will it Look Like?
When will the construction of the new Parliament begin? Here’s all you need to know.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building on Thursday, 10 December, even as the Supreme Court is hearing a plea against the construction of Central Vista in the national capital.
The apex court on Monday 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.
When will the construction of the new Parliament begin? Why are environmental activists against it? Here's all you need to know.
What will the new Parliament look like?
Spread over 65,400 square meters, the new building will reportedly celebrate the cultural diversity of India with artisans and sculptures from across the country being employed to build the structure.
The new building, which will be a triangular structure, will be the same height as the old one. It will house a grand Constitution Hall, a lounge for Members of Parliament, a library, multiple committee rooms, dining areas, among others.
Okay, but what about the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha?
The Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity for 888 members, while Rajya Sabha will have 384 seats.
This is likely to be designed keeping in mind the future increase in the members of the two Houses and a delimitation exercise scheduled in 2026. Currently, the Lok Sabha has a sanctioned strength of 543 members and Rajya Sabha of 245.
How much is this going to cost? Who is building it?
In September 2020, Tata Projects Limited won the bid to construct the new building, at a cost of Rs 861 crore. It will be constructed under the Central Vista Redevelopment Project.
What exactly is the Central Vista Project all about?
Central Vista is the area on both sides of Rajpath – from Rashtrapati Bhawan to Princes’ Park near India Gate.
Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament, North Block, South Block, Vice-President's House and Central – all come under Central Vista. So do institutions like National Museum, National Archives, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts or IGNCA, Udyog Bhawan, Bikaner House, Hyderabad House, Nirman Bhawan and Jawahar Bhawan.
The ruling government's plan to revamp this entire area is what the Central Vista Redevelopment Project is all about.
Why are environmentalists and historians unhappy with the Central Vista revamp and in connection, the construction of a new Parliament building?
- As many as seven pleas have been filed in the Supreme Court against various permissions given to the project by the authorities, including the nod to change the land use.
- As many as 80 acres of land, which is currently accessible to the public, will become 'restricted' and can only be accessed by government officials. Architects argue that the change in land use is 'legally not tenable' – and that there is no provision to compensate for those spaces that won't remain accessible to public.
- No environment audit of the project has taken place either. At least 1,000 trees will be cut. There is also no plan on how the green cover will be replenished for the 80 acres of land which is being redeveloped. Climate activists are warning that the spiking levels of pollution in the national capital could deteriorate further if the construction begins.
- No heritage audit has been carried out for the project. Even Grade 1 heritage buildings like the National Museums – basically, buildings which are of national importance and architectural excellence – will be demolished or modified under the proposed redevelopment.
When will the construction of the new Parliament be completed?
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on 5 November that the new structure is likely to be ready ahead of the Budget Session in 2022.
What exactly is the Supreme Court saying about construction of the new Parliament building?
The Supreme Court on Monday, 7 December, allowed the central government to go ahead with the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Central Vista site, while noting that no construction, demolition or felling of trees shall take place at the spot.
"You can lay the foundation stone, you can carry on paperwork but no construction or demolition, no cutting down any trees," the Supreme Court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
SG Mehta, on instructions, undertook on behalf of the Centre that there would not be any construction, demolition or shifting of trees in the Central Vista till the Supreme Court delivers its judgment.
So as of now, even if the foundation stone is laid, construction will not begin.
Wait, but what will happen to the existing Parliament?
The existing Parliament will be converted into an archaeological asset of the country – fitted, reportedly, to provide functional spaces for Parliamentary events.
The structure will complete 100 years in 2021 and was constructed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, who were responsible for the planning and construction of the city of New Delhi. It took six years to complete and cost Rs 83 lakh at that time.
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