New Delhi, July 13: A new Parliament House complex may come up in the national capital in place of the existing 85-year-old heritage building. A High Powered Committee (HPC) is being set up to suggest an alternative complex to house the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha amidst apprehensions over the structural stability of the building built in 1927.
The issue of the site, the size and the structure of the alternative complex would be decided by the HPC which will soon be set up by Speaker Meira Kumar, Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Viswanathan told PTI. The move is being thought of at a time when severe wear and tear as also a spate of changes and encroachments in the original design has endangered the structural stability of the heritage building.
Viswanathan said the HPC is being set up in view of the fact that the present structure which was 85 years old could not cope with the growing foot falls and not able to service so many people.
The Parliament House is one of the most heavily fortified buildings in the country with the presence of a large number of security personnel. Besides, in the next 50 years, the strength of both the Houses is also expected to increase with moves for greater representation to women and other weaker sections.
Quoting the Speaker, he said the magnificient building was “weeping” as it has to bear much load with heavy foot falls, new additions, including air conditioning of both the Houses and heavy cabling which was not originally planned. The Lok Sabha Secretariat has also approached an eminent technical institute at Roorkie to undertake a study of the building, which may not be able to withstand a major earthquake.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also been approached to detail the measures to be taken in the event of a quake, Viswanathan said.
Viswanathan said that efforts are being made on a war footing to secure a ‘no objection certificate’ from the Delhi Fire Service “which we have never got so far”.
The Speaker had directed the secretariat to take all possible precautions and steps in the backdrop of the Mantralaya fire in Mumbai which gutted a major portion of the Maharashtra government headquarters.
In the wake of the Mumbai incident, the Secretary General held a meeting with the CPWD officers last month. The meeting saw a report being presented on the encroachment in various parts of the Parliament House building.
The view was that these encroachments were dangerous in case of a fire incident as most of the escape routes – staircase on different floors are blocked either by erecting structures or by keeping unused furniture or pantries. Reports earlier had it that a a spate of changes to the original design of the Parliament House, so as to accommodate the growing number of MPs, their staff and security, has been identified as reasons for “endangering” the structural stability of the complex.
These changes include toilet blocks added over the years, additional rooms, covering of spaces designated as open courtyards and niches created even on the staircases to meet the growing demand for space.
The Parliament House is a Grade I heritage structure, designed by Edwin Lutyens and Hervert Baker. It has to be conserved in accordance with certain guidelines and its specifications cannot be altered.
Kumar has already set up a Joint Committee on Maintenance of Heritage Character and Development of Parliament House Complex.