On December 10, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament Building of our country for the Central Vista Project, India’s New Parliament. Its total cost will be around Rs. 971 Crore. It means that the government will spend around Rs. 1000 Crore for the new parliament building, right in the center of India’s capital. So the first and foremost question that arises is, “What is the necessity of a new Parliament building?”
In 2019, the Government of India announced the Central Vista Project of Re-Development. It is the 3-kilometer long stretch between the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the India Gate in New Delhi. It consists of North Block, South Block, and Vice President’s Resident. The government wants to redevelop this entire area. The new Parliament building is one of the main features of this project but it is not the only feature. It also includes the upcoming of a new Central Secretariat, a new house and office for the Prime Minister, a new house for the Vice President, and a large park between this stretch. The above-mentioned cost of Rs. 971 Crore is only for the new Parliament building. In total, the cost of the Central Vista Project will be around Rs. 20,000 Crore.
Salient Features of New Parliament Building
The new Parliament building will be constructed next to the existing Parliament building. It will be a four-storeyed triangular building. Its interiors will have the three national symbols of India – The Lotus, The Peacock, and The Banyan Tree. The interior theme of the Lok Sabha will be the national bird, the interior theme of Rajya Sabha will be the national flower and that of Central Lounge will be the national tree. The building will also have modern audio-visual communication systems. There will be the usage of the latest digital interfaces used as a step towards creating paperless offices. Also, it will have a separate lounge and office space for Members of Parliament. There will be the use of smart displays and bio-metrics to make voting easier in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Problems with the Old Parliament Building
On December 12, 1911, the British government announced the shifting of the British capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi. This is because a new Parliament building began to construct in the city of Delhi. It was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The frontal view of this building is circular but from the above view, it can be noticed that this building is divided into three equal chambers separated by an angle of 120 degrees. One of them is Lok Sabha, the other is Rajya Sabha and the third one is a library. In the center lies the Central Hall which is used for the joint sittings of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The several parts of the building have been developed over time to time but the construction of this Parliament building is believed to be a historical marvel of architecture.
Arguments in Favour of the New Parliament Building
In the existing Parliament, there is a seating capacity of 550 people in the Lok Sabha compared to the 552 Lok Sabha MPs permitted by the Indian Constitution. At present, the sitting capacity of Lok Sabha is cut-to-cut of that total number of Members of Parliament. But when our Indian Constitution was in making, it was decided that the allocation of seats would be revised every 10 years based on the changes in population. During the delimitation of the constituencies, it was considered that every constituency should roughly represent an equal number of people which means that every member of the Parliament should represent an equal part of the population. It was also considered that the constituencies have to be re-drawn with the changing population over the period of time or new seats might be added every ten years to represent every citizen of this country equally. But the number of seats was frozen in the year 1976 with the aim of revisiting the matter of redrawing constituencies after the census of 2001. Then in 2002, it was further pushed to the census of 2026. This postponement of delimitation of constituencies led to a scenario where every constituency does not represent an equal number of people in the current time. It leads to the increase or decrease of the value of a vote depending on the state in which a voter lives in. Based on the population projections of 2026, the re-allocation of Lok Sabha seats will lead to 848 instead of the present number of 543 seats. This the biggest reason why our country needs a new parliament building which will have the capacity of around 888 seating MPs.
Arguments Against the New Parliament Building
According to several reports, the population of India is set to stabilize by the year 2061 and the Indian population is projected to decline thereafter. Hence, we need to re-evaluate the population and reduce the number of MPs. This therefore may lead to wastage of both time and money. If we continue to maintain this status quo for the next 50-60 years, the population will stabilize and there will be no increase in the number of seating MPs in the Parliament.
In my opinion, to increase the number of seats of the Lok Sabha for the next 50-60 years and spending Rs. 971 Crore for such a project is not very fruitful. The old building can be upgraded with the latest technologies and it will save a lot of money which can be further utilized in various other programs which are the need of the hour in our country.
Hence, the construction of the new Parliament building can be justified as there is a need to increase the number of MPs of Lok Sabha but how can one justify the rest of the Central Vista Project, the estimated cost of which is around Rs. 20,000 Crore especially, in the present scenario when the country is reeling under the economic crisis due to COVD-19. The GDP growth rate is at around -20% as of December 2020 and there is a rapid growth in the rate of unemployment.
Around 10 petitions have been filled in the Supreme Court challenging the redevelopment plan, and the Hon’ble Court has directed that till the time the case is sub-judice, no construction work will be done or is allowed in this project. But despite that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the building.
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