A new report has found water seepage and lack of maintenance at Parliament House
Leaking roofs and corroding reinforcement have been identified as triggers for the deterioration of the Parliament House building. A new report on the fitness of the eight-decade-old heritage structure has blamed water seepage and lack of maintenance for turning the building decrepit.
More than a year after investigations were initiated into what was causing the seat of democracy to wither and fall-apart, the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, has found that the building’s fitness is not as grave as was assumed earlier. They have suggested a slew of steps, beginning with water-proofing to arrest further damage.
“The assessment that was carried out by the institute has revealed that there are several patches on the roof from where water is seeping in and causing dampness on the walls. And because the water-proofing is not adequate, the reinforcement [steel used in construction] has begun to rust, which needs to be repaired,” said a senior official of the Union Urban Development Ministry.
The Central Public Works Department, which is mandated to carry out maintenance and repair of the Grade-I heritage structure, has been asked to start the repair work on a war footing.
“An action plan is being readied based on the CPWD’s own assessment and the institute’s report, which will be submitted to the Lok Sabha Secretariat for sanction; following this, the CPWD will be in a position to carry out the necessary repairs,” the official said.
The repairs, which are expected to take about six months to complete, will be largely confined to water-proofing.
This will be followed up with a comprehensive restoration plan.
“We have decided to engage a consultant to help draw up a plan for restoration of the heritage building. The consultant will work in coordination with the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the CPWD,” the official said.
The official said the institute’s assessment found large patches of discolouration on the walls and the ceilings, chipped concrete, and cracks in the tiles on the roof. “There is no visible distress in most parts of the building,” the official said.
Illegal structures have come up inside the House for accommodating offices of politicians, administrative staff and security personnel. These have been identified as adding dead weight to the building and making it structurally weak. The official said the responsibility to remove these structures lies with the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
In July, 2012, the CPWD had drawn up a report listing the causes for “endangering” the building’s structural stability. The aberrations listed include additional toilet blocks and rooms, covering of open spaces and courtyards, and niches created on staircases to meet the growing demand for space.
It had also frowned upon the running of an illegal kitchen within the premises, which was not only a fire hazard but chocked drains meant to carry rainwater with refuse. The CPWD had also called for de-cluttering the building by ordering the removal of gadgets and appliances that add weight to the aging structure.
In May this year, the stench from the chocked drains caused a furore in the Rajya Sabha, forcing adjournment. Vice-President Hamid Ansari had called for an investigation.