New Delhi: India may get a new Parliament building with latest technological facilities as a proposal has been mooted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who has said the existing 88-year-old structure is showing signs of “distress” and will no longer be able to meet the growing demand for space.
She has written to Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu asking him to consider initiating action for construction of a new Parliament building and suggested two options for the alternative site, one within the Parliament complex itself and another across the Rajpath, sources told PTI here on Sunday.
The sources said the possible follow-up to the letter is that the Urban Development Ministry will prepare a note for the Cabinet where the matter could be considered.
While giving various reasons for constructing a new building, the Speaker has said that the number of seats in Lok Sabha is likely to go up after 2026 “in accordance with the provisions of the explanation to clause (3) Article 81 of the Constitution” while the present seating capacity of the House is 550 without any scope for increasing it any further.
The sources explained that the number of seats in Lok Sabha may go up after 2026 because of this clause in Article 81 which determines representation on the basis of population determined by the last census (possibly 2021 census).
In her letter, Mahajan has said, “On account of ageing of the Parliament House building and expansion in activities, staff etc, the building has shown signs of distress and over utilization…Under the circumstances, there is an imperative need for the construction of a new state-of-art Parliament building.”
She argued that when the present structure was commissioned in 1927, the number of staff, security personnel, media visitors and parliamentary activities were limited but over the years, the parliamentary activities and number of people working there and visitors have increased manifold.
With the expanding scope of Parliamentary oversight functions, increase in number of committees and security requirements, the demand for space has increased several times, the Speaker has underlined.
There are also plans, keeping in view the technological advancements, to equip the MPs with latest gadgets to enable them to make the best possible use of technological tools available and to make Parliament paperless, she said.
“This would also require re-designing and refurbishing of the sitting arrangements in the Lok Sabha Chamber. Whereas there are limitations to this in the present sitting arrangements in the Chamber, a new building will offer better scope for a modern Parliament building equipped with latest technological tools,” Mahajan said.
Since the building has been declared as ‘Heritage Grade-I’ structure, there are several limitations on the structural repairs, additions, alterations and modifications to it, the Speaker has said.
She gave two options for the new building. One option for construction of the new building would be within the Parliament complex itself which would require relocation of certain facilities and services, she said.
The second option could be the other side of Rajpath, which is “suitably large area and would enable a free design of a new Parliament House building”, Mahajan said.
She suggested that an underground link beneath Rajpath may be constructed to provide connectivity between the existing building and the proposed new complex.
About a year back, a suggestion to build a new Parliament was reportedly made at a meeting of Budget Committee of Parliament including Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M Thambidurai, Public Accounts Committee Chairman KV Thomas and Estimates Committee Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi.
Thomas had said that the existing building was “old” and a new Parliament building should be thought of as provision needed to be made for the next 100 years.