Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the upcoming Parliament building will be a “beacon of a new and self-reliant India”.
“It will symbolise India’s rich heritage and the will of a modern India,” he said at the bhumi-pujan (groundbreaking) ceremony in New Delhi on Thursday. Over 200 guests from home and abroad attended the programme.
“Today (Thursday, December 10) is a historic day. If the current Parliament building is the one that gave direction to an Independent India since 1947, then the new Parliament building will prove to be a testament to a new and atmanirbhar Bharat,” he said.
On the old building, the PM said, “It was an emotional day for me when I first became a part of this temple of democracy. I remember bowing down upon my first visit. The present building was built over 100 years ago and it has reached its capacity. It is now seeking rest.”
The proposed four-storied building will occupy about 13 acres of land near Rashtrapati Bhavan. The new parliament structure is a part of the Modi government’s ambitious ₹20,000-crore Central Vista project, which has drawn criticism for various quarters, with many questioning the need for it.
The government plans to complete the Parliament building work before India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022. However, the construction work cannot start as a trial is pending in the Supreme Court.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “Mr. Modi, history will also record that when the Annadata (farmers) was fighting for their rights for 16 days on the streets, you were building a palace for yourself in the name of Central Vista! In democracy, power is not a means to fulfill whims, it is a medium for public service and public welfare.”
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The inauguration ceremony was webcast live. Union ministers, members of Parliament, foreign envoys and religious leaders attended the virtual programme. Industrialist Ratan Tata, whose Tata Projects has the contract to build the new Parliament building, was also present.
The new building became necessary as the existing British-era structure was found lacking when it came to modern info-tech facilities and offices for MPs. Besides, it has reached its capacity in terms of seating arrangements in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha halls.
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The Lok Sabha chamber of the new building will have a seating capacity for 888 with an option to increase to 1,224 members during Joint Sessions. The Rajya Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity for 384 members.
Each member of Parliament will be provided with a 40 sq m office space in the redeveloped Shram Shakti Bhawan, which will be completed by 2024.
The Central Vista Plan is Modi government’s pet project, but it has been challenged in the Supreme Court, which pulled up the government last week for aggressively promoting the project even before a decision was taken on the petition challenging the project. “You can lay the foundation stone, you can carry on paperwork but no construction or demolition, no cutting down any trees,” the court had said.
The Central Vista project will run along the 3-km Rajpath, with parks on both sides that stretches from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Nav Bharat Udyan will come up on the banks of Yamuna river. The 20-acre park will have an iconic structure and infotainment facilities.