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New Parliament building has little value


The NDA Government‘s “new Parliament” is all set for take-off. The Central Vista project’s launch has attracted both bouquets and brickbats. PM Narendra Modi’s ambition is to ensure that the upscale building is ready for India’s 75th Independence Day celebration in 2022.

The Centre has said it wants to free up the Lutyens space and bring more Government ministries under a common roof, apart from housing the Vice-President and the Prime Minister. Also, since the freeze on the number of Parliament seats is going to end in 2026 and it would pave the way for delimitation, States are likely to send more representation to the Lower House, and consequently to the Upper House, through possible amendments. It will necessitate more space.

The cardinal question is what about the mammoth cost to be incurred? Rs. 20,000 crore is no small change. What’s wrong with the existing building? It is a 93- year-old imposing structure that is not just a building. It symbolizes the spirit of Indian democracy that has stood the test of time. Yes, the structure looks old, but it looks grand. The massive colonial product has been made their own by Indian leaders over the years.

The very fact that the Government plans to convert the old Parliament into a museum has pained observers. Felling of innumerable trees to make way for the sprawling 64,500 sq m building is another hotly disputed issue that has threatened to go out of hand. It is clear that laws and guidelines pertaining to land clearance and environment were bypassed while visualizing and executing the ‘new Parliament’ plan. The Opposition parties have cried foul; of course, they were not consulted because the Centre would rather rush ahead with a grand project which would have anyway met with their disapproval.

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