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New Parliament House plans shelved

PTI 23 Sep 2012, 12:02:07 PM IST
New Delhi, Aug 12: Parliament House, witness to history for the past 85 years, will continue to be the home to the two houses of Parliament, with moves to have a new building elsewhere being dropped now.

Conscious of the rich history and heritage of theParliament House before and after Independence, leaders across the political spectrum have opposed the moves for a new Parliament House that led to their being nipped in the bud.  

There is no official word about the shelving of plans, but nobody is talking anymore about having an alternate site to house Parliament that has shown wear and tear and needs repair.

Not only politicians and Parliamentarians, but conservationists too are opposed to the idea of shifting Parliament House, calling it “absolutely nonsense”.  They are of the view that conservationists should be roped in to strengthen the structure, which has a “rich history” attached to it.

It all started with Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Viswanathan talking about constitution of a high-powered committee to suggest an alternative complex because of apprehensions over the structural stability of the building constructed in 1927.

The apprehensions arose in the wake of a devastating fire in Mantralaya, the seat of Maharashtra Government, in Mumbai.

Adding to the problem was the kitchen in the Parliament House, where nearly 30 gas cylinders were in use which was considered a safety hazard. Besides the changes and encroachments in the original design has endangered the structural stability.

Viswanathan had said that the issue of the site, the size and the structure of the alternative complex would be decided by the HPC to be set up by the Speaker.
The Speaker has said that she will hold consultations with the Vice President on forming a high-power committee to look into the safety of the Parliament House building and study the need for constructing a new complex.  

Political leaders, most of whom are members of either Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, say that everything should be done to decongest Parliament and both the Houses should continue to work from there.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal hit the nail right on the head when he frowned upon the idea of an alternative Parliament House. He is of the view that the present heritage building should be retained.  

Though Bansal said it was his personal opinion, another minister speaking on condition of anonymity said that no one in the Government favoured any change.  

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he was “little surprised and shocked” on hearing about the move but was “highly respectful” of those who will take a decision on the issue.

Noting that he has an emotional attachment, Chatterjee said he will be missing the building if it does not house Parliament which has been a “symbol of national unity and Parliamentary system”.