On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially open Delhi's new Parliament House.
The majority of the Opposition parties will boycott the Parliament House's inauguration because they believe President Droupadi Murmu, not Modi, should perform the ceremony.
The Center has continued with the inauguration despite the objections. The Central Vista Project's renovation of the Lutyens' Delhi includes the new Parliament House as a significant component.
Here, we describe the new Parliament building's characteristics, the reasons the Modi administration built it, and the controversy it has generated.
Why was the new Parliament House constructed?
On December 10, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the cornerstone for the new Parliament building.
According to Modi, if the previous Parliament House provided guidance for the nation after independence, the new one would be a witness to the creation of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. He called the laying of the foundation a “milestone in India's democratic history”
The Modi administration authorized the Central Vista Project, which includes the new Parliament House, in 2019. The Supreme Court upheld the government's position in January 2021 after hearing an appeal to the decision and the ensuing land and environmental approvals.
Although the choice to construct the new Parliament House was made in 2019, it had been considered for a while.
According to a 2012 IANS report, the Lok Sabha Speaker at the time, Meira Kumar, given the go-ahead for a powerful committee to recommend an alternative complex to the existing parliament building.
According to IANS, the then-Lok Sabha Secretary General TK Viswanathan said that a new complex was necessary since the current one was overcrowded and unable to handle the demand.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in 2021 that the older parliament structure has additional problems in addition to becoming hazardous over time.
He said, “Since we became an independent nation, there are more members (parliamentarians). As a result, several interior changes have been made, and additional amenities have been installed. However, from a strictly structural standpoint, the structure is hazardous. The structure was built in a seismic zone II region, but that zone is now a seismic zone IV. It is not overstating things. You are aware that you are above pushing the envelope; we don't want to incite fear.
The former Parliament House is described as a “distressed building” on the webpage for the Central Vista Project.
“Over the years, unplanned additions to utilities including water supply lines, sewage lines, air conditioning, fire-fighting equipment, CCTV, and audio video systems have caused seepages and ruined the building's overall appearance. The structure was not constructed in accordance with current fire rules, raising serious concerns about its fire safety. According to the website, several new electric wires have been installed that pose a fire risk.
The Central Vista Project also includes a new prime minister's home and office, a new Vice President's enclave, a revamped 3-km Rajpath (now Kartavya Path) from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate, and a unified central secretariat in addition to the Parliament House. New Parliament House was built by Tata Projects Limited.
Timeline for the new Parliament House in 2019: The Government of India unveiled the Central Vista Project.
2019: HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt Ltd was given the job of creating the project's architectural plan.
2020: The new Parliament House will be constructed by Tata Projects Ltd. The initial estimate for the price was Rs. 862 crore. But according to NDTV's story from the previous year, the price had risen by 29% to more over Rs 1,250 crore.
2020: The new Parliament House's foundation was officially set on December 10 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
2021: The Supreme Court gave the Parliament House's construction the go light in January. The new Parliament House's development got under way later that month.
Modi revealed the Indian flag's design, which will be displayed atop the Parliament Building, in 2022. The lions' exposed teeth in the logo sparked debate.
2023: In the midst of debate about who should inaugurate, Modi is scheduled to open the Parliament House on May 28. Many members of the Opposition and critics agree that the President should inaugurate rather than the Prime Minister.
The new Parliament House's features
The new Parliament House is larger and offers more seats than the old one had. Additionally, it will be a “smart building,” reducing the need for paper.
According to HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt Ltd, “Furniture in the debating halls will include smart displays and biometrics for easy voting with intuitive and graphical interface; digital language interpretation and recording infrastructure to produce real-time metadata; and programmable microphones.”
HCP lists more characteristics of the Parliament House, including:
With 770 and 384 seats, respectively, the bigger Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha chambers would be housed there.
Up to 1,140 more seats would be available in the Lok Sabha chamber for holding joint sessions.
Important amenities including committee rooms, significant Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs offices, Lok Sabha Secretariat, and Rajya Sabha Secretariat would be available.
There will also be freely accessible galleries and displays of the caliber of museums.
Additionally, a Constitution Hall and gallery will be present.
According to HCP Design's website, “The central Constitution Hall and Gallery will feature the Indian Constitution and other artifacts of India's heritage, symbolically and physically placing people at the center of the Indian democracy.”
What issues are in dispute?
These disputes have affected the majority of the construction's processes, from the laying of the foundation to the official opening.
The project has drawn criticism for being superfluous and being Modi's personal vanity project, especially in light of the current economic difficulties brought on by Covid.
The initiative was referred to as Modi's “personal vanity project” by the Congress earlier this month. Congressman Jairam Ramesh tweeted the following about a picture of Modi examining the Parliament building: “The single architect, designer, and worker for the new Parliament building, which he will inaugurate on May 28th. The image clearly illustrates a personal vanity endeavor.
It has drawn criticism since the new Parliament building is being dedicated on the day when Hindutva propagandist VD Savarkar was born. Savarkar, who was accused in the Gandhi murder case and criticized for holding beliefs that some deemed to be anti-Muslim, continues to be a very divisive figure in Indian politics.
Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, reportedly advised Modi to rename the new Parliament Building “Savarkar Sadan.”
The initiative was previously described as “wasteful and unnecessary” by a group of 69 former officials. They claimed that the nation's public health infrastructure cried out for investment and questioned why this “wasteful and unnecessary project must take precedence over social priorities like health and education” in writing about the larger Central Vista Project under the auspices of Constitutional Conduct Group.
Most recently, the Opposition mostly abstained from the new Parliament's inauguration since it was conducted by Prime Minister Modi rather than President Murmu.