On 10th December, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building. The cost of the new Parliament building is estimated at ₹930 crores. The principal architect is Bimal Patel. In 2019, the central government announced its proposal for the Central Vista Redevelopment Project. The area stretches from the Rashtrapati Bhavan till the India Gate. The North Block, South Block, Parliament House, Vice President’s house are all included in this 3 kilometres stretch of land.
The new Central Vista includes the plan for a new Central Secretariat, Prime Minister’s new residence and office, new Vice President’s house as well as a large park. The cost of the new Parliament building is estimated at ₹930 crores but the overall project may reach nearly ₹20000 crores which the central government does not yet have.
The New Parliament Building
In its efforts to digitalise India, the new parliament building will be equipped with the latest audio-visual communication systems and digital interfaces will be used as a step towards creating paper-less offices. The building will have a triangular shape, when compared with the Pentagon shaped building in the USA. It will be a four-storey building. The interior theme of the Lok Sabha will be the peacock, the national bird of India, the interior theme of the Rajya Sabha chamber will be lotus, the national flower of India and in the central lounge, the design theme will be of the banyan tree which is the national tree of India. Around 195 trees will be cut for the project but the government confirmed that all those trees will be compensated by planting new trees and transplanting trees from other places.
Old Parliament Building
The existing parliament building was constructed under the guidance of Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1927. They laid out the design of New Delhi at that time. The existing parliament building has a circular layout and has three chambers and a central hall. The three chambers consist of the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and a library. The central chamber is used for joint sitting of both Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
Arguments Against the new Parliament Building
- States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will get more seats due to their population when compared to states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. If the new building is made then the northern states will get more political power.
- The new building will mean more electoral seats which in turn means more expenditure in the form of salaries and personal security of Members of Parliament. It would be an extra spending of money.
- The focus of the central government should be on providing hospital beds and oxygen cylinders to the citizens rather than using their funds for building new residences and offices.
- Statistics show that the population in India will keep rising until 2061 after which it will stabilise and maybe even go down.
Arguments for the new Parliament building
- The existing parliament building may not be earthquake resistant and since it was built in 1911, its architectural drawings and plans have not been found. The new building will be completely earthquake resistant.
- The old building is structurally unstable because it is really old. There is no high-tech communication systems which is necessary for faster communication in modern legislature.
The US Parliament was built in 1793, the UK Parliament was built in 1870, Parliament buildings of Italy dates back to 1505 while that of South Africa was constructed in 1884. Compared to these, India’s parliament is relatively new as it was built between 1921 to 1927. It is not a bad idea to construct a new parliament building and may even be considered a necessity but the whole of Central Vista need not be reconstructed because it is a wastage of precious ₹20000 crores.
It would make more sense if the central government moves along with the plan of reconstructing the Central Vista when the country is able to stand on its own feet and when the Indian economy is doing well after India gets rid of the coronavirus. India has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Indian economy is in a pathetic state. India’s GDP growth rate sank by 9.4% compared to last year and when unemployment exists at a high rate all over India, the central government should use its resources to reconstruct the efficiency of the system rather than beautify the Central Vista.
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