New Parliament a 'necessity': Om Birla backs Central Vista's key building
With 15 months to go for the new Parliament building, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla on Friday backed the need for Centra Vista's key structure and said that the move to go ahead with a new building did not see any objection from members of Parliament. He called the move to build the country's new house for Parliamentarians a "necessity".
The Central Vista project envisages constructing a new Parliament House, a new residential complex that will house the Prime Minister and the vice president, as well as several new office buildings and a central secretariat to accommodate ministry offices.
Om Birla said not a single MP in either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha had objected to the construction of a new parliament building after a request for it was made by both the Houses to the Centre.
The new Parliament building is a "necessity", Birla said and added that even though the construction is running 16 days behind schedule, it will be completed by October 2022.
"We were (initially) 27 days ahead of schedule. But after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic (second wave), the construction is now 16 days behind schedule," Birla said.
Defending the new parliament building, which has seen objections from Opposition leaders for its construction amid the thick of the Covid-19 outbreak in April and May, Birla said the existing building cannot be expanded and does not cater to the needs of changing times.
"The existing building is a historical one. Many historic decisions were taken in this building. But it cannot be expanded further and therefore a new building is a necessity," the Lok Sabha speaker said.
Birla added that the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members had requested the Central government for a new parliament building.
"When the request for a new parliament building was made by both the houses, no MP had objected to it. No one has approached me opposing it," Birla said.
In a staunch criticism of the Central Vista project, the opposition parties demanded halting the project to save funds for the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Initially, the project involved having a new Parliament building in place by India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022.
The construction site for Central Vista includes most of the Rajpath stretch which has been made inaccessible for photography and videography. Hindustan Times reported on May 7 that the list of trees that will be removed for the project will include at least 20 jamun trees that are nearly 100 years old and were planted as part of the original plan of Lutyens’ Delhi in the 1920s.
Last month, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea seeking to halt construction work at Central Vista Avenue in the national capital, saying it was a motivated petition. The court said the project was of national importance.
“The whole Central Vista is an essential project of national importance where the sovereign functions of Parliament will be conducted. The public is widely interested in this project,” it said.
Stating that Covid-19 safety protocols are being followed and there is no reason to stall construction, the court said the workers are staying at the site and all the facilities have been provided to them.