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Sarath Ramesh Kuniyl
Sarath Ramesh Kuniyl


Time for change

  • Sir Herbert Baker (left) and Sir Edwin Lutyens

The idea for a new Parliament building, which was lying in cold storage since last year, has got a fresh leash of life. The Union government has, reportedly, backed Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's proposal for a new building. By 2026, her office said, the building will be bursting at its seams because of a clause in Article 81, which determines representation on the basis of population according to the latest census (possibly 2021 census).

Former speaker Meira Kumar, too, had called for a new structure to replace the “weeping” monolith because of leaking walls and damp walls. While the parliamentarians keep their fingers crossed, hoping to move into a swanky building, let's take a peek into what to expect in the future...:

The new Parliament building might be built across the Vijay Chowk—the road where the Beating the Retreat parade takes place every year on January 29. Another location is the area near the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road.

If everything goes as per plan, there might be a tunnel under Vijay Chowk connecting the existing building with the new one.

The day-to-day activities in the new building will be rendered paperless using the latest technology available.

… and the building's history:

The foundation stone of the Parliament House was laid on February 12, 1921, by the Duke of Connaught. Built at a cost of Rs 83 lakh, it was inaugurated in January 1927.

The 88-year-old building was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker—they designed New Delhi, too. It is a circular structure 171m in diameter. While Lutyens designed viceroy's house (now Rashtrapati Bhavan), Baker designed the parliament building and the secretariat.

It was the positioning of the viceroy's house and the secretariat buildings—the North Block and the South Block—that led to the fallout between Lutyens and Baker. Lutyens wanted only his creation to occupy the Raisina Hill but Baker managed to convince him to accommodate the secretariat buildings, too. Lutyens agreed but discovered later that the gradient of the road was such that only the dome of the viceroy's house would be visible as one approached the hill. He tried to persuade Baker to change his plan but in vain, making Lutyens term the “colossal artistic blunder” his “Bakerloo”.

The present seating capacity of the House was 550, though it was designed for 180 members only.

It has a circular central hall, which is crowned by a 90 feet-high dome. It was in this hall the British handed over the reins of administration to India on August 15, 1947. Around this hall are three semi-circular halls, two for the legislatures and one for the Princes' Chamber, which is now a library that can accommodate three million volumes.

The Parliament House covers nearly six acres.

(Sources: Delhi By Patrick Horton, Hugh Finlay, Richard Plunkett, The Millennium Book on New Delhi, edited by B.P. Singh and Pavan K. Varma, and agencies)

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Topics : #parliament | #Listicle

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