One suggestion is to build a replica on southern side of Vijay Chowk
The concern over the structural safety of Parliament House, a heritage building, and the clamour for more space for Members of Parliament has forced the authorities concerned to look for an alternative to the existing set-up.
One suggestion is to build a replica of Parliament House on the southern side of Vijay Chowk.
In a report prepared by the Union Urban Development Ministry and submitted to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, it has been recommended that a new structure can be built across the Vijay Path as was envisaged by Sir Edward Lutyens himself.
“While planning the buildings around Raisina Hill, Lutyens had thought of a circular building, a mirror image of Parliament House on the Southern Side of the Vijay Chowk. The plot that was marked for this construction is currently being used as temporary barracks. This land can be used for building a new House that will address the current space and safety concerns,” said an official.
The Ministry has suggested that the new building can be made to resemble the existing House on the outside, but the interiors can be designed to accommodate the needs of the MPs. Both buildings can be connected through a tunnel passing right under the Vijay Chowk.
The second option, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has been informed, is using the space adjacent to Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road where government properties stand. “There are a few old residential buildings on a plot that can be cleared to create space for a new Parliament House or an annex whatever is found suitable. There is a precedence of clearing old set ups to create new,” said the official.
The report has also suggested “repair, rehabilitation and strengthening of the existing building.” “Once the new space is ready, the Central Public Works Department can carry out rehabilitation work of the existing Parliament House. Because it is a heritage structure and needs specific work, it will take four to five years to conclude the work, right from planning to execution,” the official said.
In the absence of a consensus whether India should get a new Parliament building, or simply repair and conserve the old, the Union Urban Development Ministry finds itself hunting for a suitable option.
The Ministry that recently undertook a detailed survey of the seat of democracy has begun taking remedial measures, removing clutter, reducing dead weight from the Parliament House, all of which threaten the safety of the building.
“It was designed for 180 members, but as the numbers grew and the need for space increased, benches had to be added to the galleries as well. There are several rows towards the periphery that don’t even have tables,” said the official.
A survey of the building’s structural safety recently threw up alarming revelations. Alterations to the original design and unauthorised occupation of space, presence of hazardous materials and congestion were identified in the survey as threats to the heritage building’s safety.
“Our Parliament House is decades old. Over the years, weather, wear and tear, security paraphernalia and other additions and alterations to the buildings have caused a lot of damage. Since there is a need for space, we can relocate the Houses and offices to a new building and convert the old to a museum, just as Australia has done. In Australia, where the Parliament building was built around the same time as ours, functioning Parliament has been shifted to a new building, which was constructed in the 1980s,” the official said.