The magnificent parliament building, one of India’s architectural marvels, could well be on its last legs. Massive wear and tear over its 85 years and its complete lack of emergency preparedness has prompted plans for a brand new structure.
A day after HT reported the alarming state of the heritage building, Lok Sabha officials on Friday confirmed plans for the construction of an alternative structure.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is expected to announce the setting-up of a high-powered committee for this job soon. “The issue of site, size and structure would be decided by the committee,” Lok Sabha secretary general TK Viswanathan said.
An internal report has revealed that the Delhi Fire Services declined a fire safety clearance to the building in its present condition.
Quoting the Speaker, Viswanathan said the building was “silently weeping” and bearing an excessive load due to additions to the original structure — such as the air-conditioning system, security installations and bulky cables.
Also, unplanned construction and encroachments have caused massive wear and tear while blocked stairways pose a major hazard in case of an emergency, such as a fire or an earthquake.
The decision to build afresh is also based on the assessment that the number of MPs in both Houses will increase in the next 50 years.
Since the new project is likely to take years, if not decades, for now, the Lok Sabha secretariat has decided to give “top priority” to making the complex fire-safe. “Preparations on a war footing are on to secure a no-objection certificate from the fire department,” said an official.
The secretary general has also sought a report from the National Disaster Management Authority on the measures required to keep the building safe in an earthquake.
Furthermore, the secretariat has approached the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee to undertake a study of the building.