‘Tests needed to ascertain structural safety of Parliament, North, South Blocks’

Sources say Parliament appears to be ‘the most under stress due to high density of movement in the building’

January 16, 2020 04:59 pm | Updated January 17, 2020 12:07 am IST - NEW DELHI

In the horizon: As a part of the project, ministries would be moved out of North and South Block.

In the horizon: As a part of the project, ministries would be moved out of North and South Block.

Structural engineers consulted for the Centre’s redevelopment of Central Vista have said invasive tests would need to be done to find out whether Parliament House and North and South Blocks are structurally sound or not, sources involved with the project said.

As a part of the revamp project, a new Parliament building would be constructed, while offices of various ministries would be moved out of North and South Block, which would be turned into museums, according to the plan drafted by Gujarat-based HCP Design, Planning and Management. The firm was selected by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for drafting the masterplan for the 3-km-long Rajpath in October last year.

Among the reasons that a new Parliament and office buildings were needed, according to the CPWD as well as Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry officials, was the structural safety of the heritage structures that were built from 1911 till 1931.

‘Invasive testing’

A source involved in the project said that structural engineers had been consulted over the safety of the existing Parliament and North and South Blocks. “They said we need to conduct tests to really know the status. But Parliament seems to be the most under stress due to the high density of movement in the building,” the source said, adding that some of these tests would be “invasive”.

In the request for proposal floated by the CPWD in September, which led to the appointment of HCP, the agency had said: “Buildings constructed over 100 years ago such as North and South Block are not earthquake safe.”

‘Made earthquake-safe’

Sources in the Ministry say the buildings would have to be retro-fitted and made earthquake-safe, but there has been no decision on it so far. While HCP has proposed converting the Parliament and North and South Block buildings into museums, the plan is yet to finalised, sources in the Ministry said. No decision had been taken regarding Rashtrapati Bhavan, which is not a part of the revamp project, though the building dates back to the same period as the other structures along the Central Vista, a source said.

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